log (2001/12/28 to 2002/01/03)

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Thursday, January 3, Discover Card  permanent URL for this entry

Can I view thee panting, lying
On thy stomach, without sighing;
Can I unmoved see they dying
On a log,
Expiring frog!

Say, have fiends in shape of boys,
With wild hallo, and brutal noise,
Hunted thee from marshy joys,
With a dog,
Expiring frog!

I'd forgotten that that was Dickens until M (who is rereading all of Dickens just to make me feel inferior) chortled and said "perspiring fog", and I said "you mean expiring frog", and she looked up and said "Yes!" and laughed.

This indispensible Web page contains that, a version of the toad sucking song, and many other Classic Frog-Related Verses. Don't miss it.

A reader writes:

But no mention of Konqueror in your web log? And I've been using Konqueror for davechess.com for years (or is it months or decades...uhmmmm)

Fear not, there are sneazeloads of hits from Konqueror in our server logs, and (probably) not just from you. We got Konqueror 2.2.2, and 2.2.1, and even 2.1.2. We got Konqueror on Linux, and on FreeBSD, and on "Linux 2.5.0; X11", and on merely X11 all by itself with no actual operating system. We also got lots of Opera (disguised as IE, and otherwise), and wget, and GoogleBots, and even fuckybots (I dunno, that's what it says in the log). But it was "SpaceBison" that caught my eye.

And speaking of SpaceBison, Dad sends a couple of interesting links he found while reading about Proxomitron on the Web: a gearhead column about the sorts of spyware nastiness that you find when you start watching what your system is actually doing, and a warning about being careful what you do with user input (even if it's HTTP request headers) in some system or other (a good general rule even if you don't use Vignette or whatever system this article is actually about).

Whilst we're going on at great length about server logs, we hear a reader write:

Perl for Logs? Why not use webalizer for Linux, Winddoze and even OS/2, Beos and whatever!

There are various times, and I suspect that log-analysis is one of them, where it'd take more time to find and install and understand someone else's code than it takes to just write my own. I like that webalizer has source available, but then so does my own custom Perl script... *8)

Web Host Support Person Ian has put in clever little redirects, so the WordURL toy now works even if you try to get to its old location. One or two of you may remember when we got slashdotted over that toy, and our traffic went through the roof. There are still pointers to WordURL all over the Web; it's nice to have them working again (I like to keep my error logs small).

And speaking of WordURL, I must urgently report that the domain names "SuperSucklingIndianapolis.com" and "ToothbrushMart.com" are still available! Act now, while there's still time!!

Lesee. A few months ago I mentioned having seen a map of weblog-interrelation space, but not being able to find it again. Now it's turned up in the referer log! See a picture of weblogs (requires Java). Quite a cool little toy. I'd like to see something that (say) centers or sizes the dots based on the number of links to the corresponding sites, or otherwise imposed (or let you impose) interesting metrics and constraints on the display. But it's kinda cool as it is, too.

Politics: Look, having the government pay lots of money to build sports stadiums is just a dumb idea. How hard is that?

Giuliani either exhibited stunning economic ignorance or took part in shameful political deception when he declared, "This deal is a great boon to the city of New York, both for its economy and for our morale."

In reality, every legitimate economic study that has looked at the actual impact of sports teams and stadiums shows no positive impact for a region's economy, including no benefits in terms of more jobs, income or economic growth. Meanwhile, it's difficult to figure out how New York's morale would be boosted by the Mets and Yankees moving into new buildings next door to their old facilities.

Buncha bums.

Wikis! Wikis are bustin' out all over. The referer log reveals this Wiki about Nomic(s). (Remember Nomic? We should do that again sometime, or some interesting variation on it. Suggestions welcome.) That leads in turn to a Wiki specifically about (good old) Agora Nomic.

I love Wikis in principle, and they'd even be good in practice if they had a "send me email when (this | any) page is updated" sort of facility. But I've pretty much given up on anything (besides good weblogs) that expects me to remember to check it every N time-units.

Security Bugs! You've no doubt heard about the AOL Instant Messenger security hole; it's been on freaking National TV News. Not entirely clear why; it's just another "anyone can make your computer do anything" bug in a piece of widely-deployed software. Maybe it's exciting because it's not Microsoft. *8) But as we noted at lunch, if the National Media covered every similar security hole, they wouldn't have time for much else ("next up, Janice with the weather, followed by Fred with today's buffer overflows").

Meanwhile, good old Guninski has found a big gaping hole in IE, this one allowing anyone to read any of your files. So get out there and Apply The Patch, boys and girls! (As soon as Microsoft has one, that is.) Or get yerself a reel browser; sheesh!

For dinner tonight: dumplings.

Wednesday, January 2, Discover Card  permanent URL for this entry

Dumplings for breakfast, lunch, and probably dinner today. Dumplings are great. ("It's lovely rice pudding for dinner again!")

One doesn't actually spell them "jarlza". The Web suggests that they're spelled "jiaozi", and M remembers as a kid thinking they were spelled something like "chalsa". M's ancestors have been making them at the New Year for like five or six hundred years, with good reason.

On the mystery of the "DigExt" version of IE in our server logs, a reader opines that something is deeper than "the results of a google/groups search for DigExt, which turns up lots of confusion and no real answers". Anita R contributes a bit of light on the subject:

DigExt (digital extensions) is something that office installs, I think. it started getting added to the user agent string just after I left the IE5 team, or around the summer of 1999. (I was a contractor on the program management team.)

Don't you love it when your document processing software makes modifications to your Web browser? How convenient and integrated it all is! (One wonders about the implied analog extensions to IE; extra variable capacitors automatically soldered onto the motherboard when you install Outlook?)

(There's actually something interesting and profound lurking here: something about the difference between a hacker's view of the system as a set of tools that e uses to get stuff done, as against a view of the system as a thing that is updated and maintained from afar by wise agencies as a more or less coherent whole. I'll have to think about that more and see if there are words to be put around it.)

On yesterday's Space Bison, the same Anita provides another clue:


do control-f to find the shonenknife info. The part that makes me laugh is that the toolcreator is a fan of the band shonenknife.

As are we (well, at least we have a copy of "Happy Hour" in the CD rack next to the keyboard at work). (Another search term that found davidchess.com this week: "hot chocolate midi file".)

A bit more searching about reveals that that great SpaceBison client header line is the default in the generalized messing-about proxy program proxomitron. The program is worth a look; given that one's Web browser does not necessarily have one's best interests at heart these days, putting something loyal and flexible between the browser and the Net seems like a good idea.

(The "Java1.3.0_01" client that is prominent in the logs seems to be the weblogs.com 'bot, which pings the log every ten minutes or so, for the scary reason noted in a previous era.)

So there was this deadline at the lab today, and even though I had officially checked in my bit of the work before going on vacation, I was planning to go in, say, in the afternoon, just to rally round the flag and help the team get the product sent off. And then Bill and Ian went and sent it off two days early. Shucks!

So I'll go back to work tomorrow instead. Have a dumpling.

Tuesday, January 1, Discover Card  permanent URL for this entry

So we all cuddled in bed last night playing Gameboy and writing Perl scripts to process our server logs and watching the crowds gathered in Time(s) Square not being blown up or sprinkled with any obvious radioactive substances or anything, and just before midnight we poured the Sparkling Cider (Martinelli's Gold Medal; since 1868), and when the ball dropped and the big "Discover Card" sign lit up and everyone cheered and kissed, we all clinked glasses and drank a toast to everything in general (the little boy thought that having bubbles in your apple juice was pretty weird).

I regret to report that many of you are apparently visiting this site in the regrettable "Internet Explorer" web browser. My sympathies. On the other hand, a significant number of hits also come with my favorite client line so far:

SpaceBison/0.01 [fu] (Win67; X; ShonenKnife)

Admirable abuse of the side channel, Space Bison! (Have to look that up on the Web sometime and see what the heck it is.)

Then today the Big Activity was making dumplings (Chinese Dumplings, Peking Ravioli, Jarlza). Dumpling making is great fun; we did it (by ourselves, with friends, with family) years ago when kids were tiny or not born yet. Then we did it again this year.

We made 167 dumplings. Despite being so long out of practice, working from vague notes on a decade-old index card, (they came out really yummy and) we had almost exactly the right amount of dough for the meat and meat for the dough. Just three skins left when the meat was gone, so we'll have only a tiny excess of clothes over food in Discover Card (and we had just the right number of tray-like things to keep them all on before boiling, which the little daughter says must mean we'll also have the right amount of shelter).

Good omens all.

More appealing search terms used to get to various pages of davidchess.com:

consciousness of the atom
scooby doo and marijuana
Lucid lesbian dreams
what do you recommend
Irish breakfast bacon and eggs receipt
QVC hostess
tawny kitaen
pictures of marina sirtis pregnant
cascading style sheets nude
kasha nude
armpits gillian anderson
pikachu nude

Love those armpits, and all that nudity (cascading style sheets?). But I feel I must point out that Pikachu is always nude; no point in looking for it specially. (Alien bowling balls?)

Here's one that sort of stands out:

Differences between Stories and Truths in Green Grass, Running Water

I'm sure it means something; I should look it up.

And my favorite at the moment:

intelligent people

A fine thing to look for on the Web...

Monday, December 31, 2001  permanent URL for this entry

Medley Medal

We are honored! This humble log is the recipient of a 2001 Medley Medal from Medley.

Sometimes I have no idea what David Chess is talking about, but, even so, it's almost always very intriguing.

High praise indeed! Everyone should give out their own medals; I would, if I weren't so lazy. The Medley Medals page links to lots of good blogs, some of which I've heard about and meant to get around to actually reading. A welcome reminder.

Apologies to any extremely devoted readers who failed to get to the website on Sunday or some time like that. We were down for awhile; according to Ian it's because a router "blew up". Ka-phwoom! They ought to make routers out of less volatile materials.

One of the advantages of this new webhost (over and above the fact that they actually exist) is that they keep full and well organized logs, including client and referer information. So I can tell you that (in the brief snippet of logs I've looked at so far) the client most often hitting the site is "Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 5.0; Windows 98; DigExt)" (which is probably IE 5.0, but what's "DigExt"?), the most common non-IE client is the enigmatic "Java1.3.0_01", and by far (really by far; by, like, orders of magnitude) the most common search term used to find the site is "elf bowl".

Which is pretty strange.

I'm also impressed by how quickly (I've only looked at a few days' worth of logs) the fans of our old favorite searches, Brazil Triplets Nude and Incent Sex Stories, have shown up. (What would an actual incent sex story be about? Some sort of anarcho-capitalist perversion?)

And speaking of sex stories, although presumably not misspelled ones, a certain author who has not been updating a certain web site for a very long time would like to announce that that classic of Western literature, "Woman Being Tongued to Orgasm While Reciting the Names of North American Capital Cities", is now available in dead-tree form, in a real-live print anthology which is on real-live Amazon.

Which is also pretty strange.

What else? The kids spent a big chunk of their Christmas money on a Nintendo Game Cube, and I've been vacuuming up ghosts in Luigi's Mansion. I won another game of Alpha Centauri, this time with the "automatic unit design" stuff turned off so I got to spend lots of time fiddling around in the manual unit design workshop, but really they all sort of blur together by now and I'm not going to write down anything much about it. (I was miserably ill for the brief periods of Saturday that I wasn't asleep, but I'm definitely not going to write much about that. It was a 24-hour thing, and I'm all better now.)

Another very popular present around here were (was) the walkie-talkies that Grampa sent; one for each of us. So now there's another function that the Ultimate Geek Toy needs to have: not only does it need to be a combination digital camera, pocket computer, mp3 player, and cellphone, it also needs to have a Family Radio Service transceiver. Fewer sleek little boxes to keep track of!

Remember this? A reader writes:

'Member this? Captain Walker. 'Member this? Mrs. Walker.

Prizes will be given for the most creative analysis.

Oh, and HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!! Drive carefully. Once the hurstle and burstle of the Holiday Season is (are) behind us, we (I) plan to spend some time actually thinking and writing about things again. But of course that's just a plan...

Friday, December 28, 2001  permanent URL for this entry

We explore... and you call us criminals. We seek after knowledge... and you call us criminals. We exist without skin color, without nationality, without religious bias... and you call us criminals. You build atomic bombs, you wage wars, you murder, cheat, and lie to us and try to make us believe it's for our own good, yet we're the criminals. Yes, I am a criminal. My crime is that of curiosity.   --

I stayed up entirely too late last night (this morning) after everyone else was asleep, with the cat on my lap and the laptop balanced on the arm of the sofa in the back room, watching Hackers on a DVD. It was great fun. If you can't stay up until all hours watching a silly movie over the solstice holiday, when can you?

Ms. Jolie

Lots of things one could say about the movie. I expect it's notable for some of us (hi, Steve) as the first major role for one Angelina Jolie. Large swathes of the technical stuff (and even just the plot) are wrong or nonsensical. But that's not the point, really. It's just fun; it strokes certain people in certain ways, it pushes certain buttons in some people, it maybe encourages the formation of certain buttons in others.

Well-done little touches aimed at part of The Target Audience: the reference to Emanuel Goldstein (likely referring to the Emanuel Goldstein of 2600, who also appears in the credits, but since he's a reference to the Emmanuel Goldstein of 1984 it's hard to be sure), the cameo by Penn Jillette (as well as brief cameos by Ms. Jolie's breasts), the quote from "The Conscience of a Hacker", the whole "ultra cool urban techno-hacker club lifestyle" thing that modern geeks like to dream (and write SF) about (does it / did it actually exist anywhere?).

Good clean fun.

It would be an exaggeration to say that throughout history there has been no progress of a material kind. Even today, in a period of decline, the average human being is physically better off than he was a few centuries ago. But no advance in wealth, no softening of manners, no reform or revolution has ever brought human equality a millimeter nearer. From the point of view of the Low, no historic change has ever meant much more than a change in the name of their masters.   --

Of course we shouldn't forget for whom that Goldstein turned out to be working.

Dad writes that he's going to start blogging again, and notes (in his blog) that he's switching from ISDN to DSL. I'm still purely dialup here at home (having a nice fat pipe at work to overload my synapses during the week), but I'm always toying with the idea. It's still too bleeding-edge for me at the moment. Maybe later.

Anita R writes "music from big blue -- a music apa!", and indeed it was. We were constrained by the technology (physically mailing cassettes around was the most convenient way of exchanging music back in Those Days), and that constraint forced us into a certain kind of community. Nowadays when it's so easy to put a MIDI file, or a WAV, or an MP3, onto the Web, that's not necessary; any individual can do it more or less by himself. So if a community is going to form, it has to arise from some other locus than cooperation for distribution.

(See some previous woolgathering on the subject of traditional print APAs.)

Briefly noted from Daze Reader: Striptease as it was meant to be, and Censorship in the cutthroat world of championship Scrabble.

Think about discontinuity!


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