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Thursday, February 7, 2002  permanent URL for this entry

Dad points out that Ed Felten's crew have decided not to appeal the dismissal of their anti-DMCA case back in November, since the government has promised to play nice:

The government stated in documents filed with the court in November 2001 that "scientists attempting to study access control technologies" are not subject to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA).

Of course it'd have been better to take it all the way to the Supreme Court and have them rule the DMCA evil; but that would have risked them ruling it good, which would have been bad.

I have a new machine (well, really an old machine left over from an old project) in my office, and I've just installed Leenooks on it, so as to have a Leenooks machine to do things on. Isn't that exciting?

On another subject entirely, it turns out that Stanley Schmidt (the editor of Analog) lives not too far from where I live, and last night he was doing a book signing at the local Barnes & Noble, for his newish essay collection Which Way to the Future? : Collected Essays from Analog. Me and four other people (book signings must be pretty discouraging, I always think, unless you're like an Oprah Selection) sat around and listened to him read a couple of the essays, and asked him questions about SF and editing, and generally chatted. His taste in authors seems a bit distant from mine (or at least he didn't react at all to the names MacLeod and Banks), but he recommended one novel that I bought and brought home to read, just in case.

All in all it was great fun. Among other things, a reminder that I really ought to get out more often and talk to real people that I don't already know. (But then how would I get everything else done that I want to do?) Now I have a signed copy of "Which Way to the Future", and also a signed copy of his Aliens and Alien Societies from the Science Fiction Writing Series. The inscription in the latter is "To David - looking forward to reading _your_ aliens!".

I really ought to try writing some SF again sometime...

Speaking of science fiction, I helped out some guys over the New Year, and in gratitude they've sent me a couple of 32MB memory keys. Extremely cool devices; they hold 32MB of memory, and they're small enough that I keep misplacing them. One of them is currently holding the entire contents of my three domains, as well as some pictures I want to transfer to the playroom machine at home for use in wall-art for the Sims. The main use of the gadgets will probably be as very large diskettes, transferring data between machines that have USB ports but no convenient networking.

That and as conversation pieces at parties (for the couple of months before they become Old Technology, anyway).

Wednesday, February 6, 2002  permanent URL for this entry

Stranger than satire Department: Microsoft takes a month off from writing code to fix bugs.

Describing the state of computing today as unstable and unreliable, he said Microsoft chairman Bill Gates "is really annoyed by the incredible pain we put everyone through in computing."

So yesterday I was talking to these two guys about something, and I was pointing out some pretty simple fact, and they kept bringing up these complications, and I'd explain why in this particular case it was pretty simple, but then they'd bring up something else complex, and I'd point out that in this case it didn't matter, and then...

And then this morning while putting on my pants and thinking about how a particular thing would actually be implemented, I suddenly thought "OOOooooohhhhh!" and "Is that what they were talking about..."

It'd be so much simpler if I could just be at least as smart as everyone around me, all the time.

audible.com: I have my first complaints about the audible.com subscription that I've mentioned here before.

First off, the Rio 600 eats batteries alot faster than it claims to; it goes from "<11 hours left" to "<8 hours left" in maybe three hours of on-time, but then it goes to "<5 hours left" in another half-hour, and to "Replace battery" about five minutes later. I'm gonna try it with some rechargeables and see if it's any better with them.

Second, I now have an audio program with lousy sound quality. The "100 Great Poems" that I bought way back at the beginning only to find that it wasn't available in a format that the Rio understands became available in a format that it does understand, so I downloaded it and put it on. It's about five hours, which is nice, and I thought I'd work on my Ability to Appreciate Poetry while lifting heavy things and pretending to cross-country ski and all.

Two subcomplaints: First there's more talking than poems, and some of the talking is really vapid ("Keats addresses the season as though it were a person"; duh). Can't they just read the poems and let us interpret them ourselves? Some of the stuff about the poets' lives is interesting, but there's too much of it. And second, while the sound quality of the (vapid) talking is pretty okay, the quality of the poetry reading is pretty borderline. "Hale do fee, bla fpiruh, birt fou neffer vert." Thinking of it as poetry in a foreign language helps some; other times I can actually understand it.

Speaking of a foreign language, last night I watched Hamlet (2000), the "original words, modern setting" version with Ethan Hawke as Hamlet and Bill Murray a very convincing Polonius is a business suit. It was weird, bloody, dark; the modern setting drove home, I think, just how nasty and violent a story it really is (and at least one of the humorous scenes in the original isn't in this version). The little daughter says she wants to see it; I think I'll let her watch the "To Be or Not To Be" scene, but not the "Bill Murray with the back of his head blown off" part...

Tuesday, February 5, 2002  permanent URL for this entry

Today's Quote o' the Day is from Medley:

The state rested its case after Ballou asked Ewing if he "saw my genitalia on the evening of November 2, 2001."

"Not that I recall," the officer answered.

A spammer writes:


Man, I'm actually going to miss the Spammers a little come the Revolution, when they're all confined to Constructive Reeducation Farms, hoeing cabbages. But only a little.

Silly blog-related URL o' the day: blo.gs. Who knew weblogs were popular in the Sandwich Islands?

Friends with Candy in High Places: so on Friday this highly-placed IBM Research manager passes by in the hall and tosses a box of genuine Panda® (All Natural The Real Taste of) Licorice® to me through the doorway. "Just happened to notice it in the Asian grocery store in nearby R----", he said. That didn't take long.

It's pretty good, definitely better than the stuff from the A&P (which is trying hard to be the same shape, but isn't nearly as flavorful). It's not radically different from the softer stuff that I got in the candy store in the Mall; the Panda isn't as soft, and it's slightly less sweet and slightly sharper, as one might expect.

It's still not exactly the head-filling "melt in the mouth" licorice experience that I'm looking for. It occurs to me that I have no reason to believe that such an experience actually exists, but that won't stop me from casually pursuing it. Can you make licorice at home?

The ingredients, I see, are molasses, wheat flour, licorice extract, and aniseed oil. I wonder how much of the flavor actually comes from the licorice and how much from the molasses and anise. Do they sell licorice extract retail? I'll have to put it on the grocery list...

Marble Madness

I loved Marble Madness back when it was an Atari arcade game. I don't remember how good I was at it or anything, but it was just way cool. A sufficiently insane but rational world, a sufficiently hard but doable task.

Last time I got an Amazon gift certificate I decided to try to find another game for the Gameboy Color that M got me the other Father's Day (I've pretty much finished my Pokémon Red, and you can only play so much Tetris, especially on a secondhand cartridge with no battery that you can't save high scores on). Turns out there's Marble Madness for Gameboy, although it's old and Amazon only has it used. So I ordered it used (couldn't actually use the gift certificate, since you can't for used things on Amazon, but hey), and Lo it came pretty quick, and it worked, and everything.

A four-direction arrow stick is not the ideal control device for Marble Madness, but I think I'm getting the hang of it...

Monday, February 4, 2002  permanent URL for this entry

The 1745 rebellion split Scotland in half, pitting clan against clan. The McCabe brothers, being of McDonald stock, had supported the crown - the wrong half! By around 1810, they had changed their name to Johnston, moved to remote Islay and bought 1000 acres of farmland at Laphroaig for rearing cattle.

Now to raise cattle, you must grow "feed" barley for the long winter months. And what do you do with the surplus barley? Well, ferment beer if you are English - but for an Islay Scotsman there is only one thing: distil whisky!

I had some good Scotch at a neighborhood New Year's Eve party a couple of months ago ("a couple of months ago"), and then the other day in the basement I came across a tube of Laphroaig down in the basement (left over from the previous owners; Bill was a wise economist who appreciated good booze, and I'll never forgive myself for not spending a few tipsy nights on the porch dissecting the world economy with him before his arteries gave out; sometimes fate really sucks), and I drank some in Bill's memory and it was very good.

Laphroaig has an impressive Web presence; they're either pretty neat, or they have a really good PR agency, or both. (Where can I get a tube of Laphroaig? Our local liquor store has Scotch, but neither tubes nor Laphroaig.)

It's really not fair that alcohol has all this rich history and culture and mystique built around it, but it's poisonous and most of it tastes like radiator fluid to me. I suppose if I dug around a bit more I could find a rich culture and history built around hot chocolate, but it's alcohol that gets the press.

Also, I bought a coconut at the grocery and (with advice from Steve, who has been in the tropics) we opened it and poured out the milk and grated out the meat, and made coconut macaroons. And we found an old (but not quite out of date) box of cake mix and baked a cake. A very gustatory weekend.

Institutions behaving well: The American Academy of Pediatrics supports adoption by same-sex parents; so Bathsheba feels validated.

Stayed up entirely too late last night playing The Sims. And now I've downloaded some of the tools that let you create your own artworks for the walls, and your own faces for the Sims, and stuff like that. It's all for the little daughter, of course; I myself am going to stop playing again Real Soon Now.


Good SpinSanity piece on Cheney and the GAO:

Comptroller General Walker said in a recent interview with National Review Online that he does "not believe that Dick Cheney would knowingly lie." Even if we accept this most generous of interpretations, however, such dissembling from the Vice President and Presidential spokesperson is inexcusable and disturbing.

From Beth (who got to it from a place that she found linked in this very log; small world): Old Fashioned Clip Art. Very nice.

Friday, February 1, 2002  permanent URL for this entry

Hm, this is one of those "surrounded by wombats and parts of the body beginning with N" entries, I'm afraid...

Yet, American workers want more than unemployment checks - they want immediate drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

Steve's was in fact funnier, but this one has such an over-the-top partisan ring to it...

Larry Ellison confirms our impression that he'd sell his own Mother down the river for a buck, or at least the entire population of the United States down the river for a really big honking government database contract.

Who loves you, baby?

No one [sniffle, sob].
nude David Duchovnies. Well, maybe not.
Lou G.
my baby loves me , baby!
My wife. And I love her.
My mommy.
My daddy.

Isn't that heartwarming? More extendedly:

Do you love me? I think you do :-) yeah you do love me. aww how sweet. I'm loved. ... hmm? what was that? you don't love me??!? ARGG!!! Well F&#K YOU TOO, @$$H&LE!!! GODAMMIT!!11

The challenging asparagus, aspirated on a Tuesday and reinterated on a Thursday. The guff, the nether. And along, the drow.

SimGolf loves you. Even if you hate golf, golfers, and the concept of golf, you will be forced by this game to love it. There's a demo that you can try, but I don't recommend it unless you want to proudly say you spent hours and hours on a 3-hole masterpiece of fun-gineering.* (apologies to Al Morone)

my sandwich. It loves me dearly. I would throw it away, but it sits there with this awful odor of its... and I just can't do it. The garbage is right there (no not there, over THERE silly), but I just can't. We have had such wonderful times together... I love my sandwich, and it loves me.

I was pretty impressed by Mario Golf, despite being no golfer at all in real life (shucks, the link to the picture of Plum is broken; once again I am tempted to spend hours looking for replacements for all the broken links in old log entries; I have this whole design for "broken" pages that I'd repoint the links to, containing both the original now broken link (Never Throw Anything Away) and a description of what it originally pointed to, and maybe a replacement for it (but what if one of the replacements broke???)).

And the angel wants to go back
and fix things
To repair the things
that have been broken

But there's a storm
from Paradise

And the storm keeps blowing the angel
Into the future



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