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Have an apple:
Thursday, May 30, 2002  permanent URL for this entry

Use each of the following words in a sentence:

8. amnesia

The next night the teenagers gathered again at the edge of the quarry, and with felt-tip pens wrote the words 'amnesia' and 'cinnamon' on each other's biceps.

Computers have not been doing well today. Not only was the mail server down all day, but so was Neopets; so (as I wittily remarked to M) I could neither work nor goof off.

The two down systems behaved in remarkably similar ways. Both, for instance, gave tantalizing signs of life once during the day; the mail server came up long enough to tell me it had 184 pieces of mail for me (but then wouldn't let me see them), and Neopets came up long enough for me to log on, notice that my shop was gone, notice that scads of other people were complaining that their shops were gone, and log off again. Then both retreated, tortoise-like, into silence.

I fully intend to write up the results of the the assedness poll, but presently the Stars Are Not Right (Reply Hazy, Try Again).

So yesterday someone at the little daughter's ballet class said that there was going to be a "fair" at the local Barnes and Noble, and someone else said that they were going to try to go too, so she and I went over there in the evening, and not surprisingly there was nothing at all going on except for people buying books and drinking Frappuccinos and the chess club playing chess up on the landing, and none of her grapevining friends in sight, so we just hung out for a little while and bought a couple of books, including the latest Oh My Goddess book.

Other recent things partially or wholly absorbed: the pilot of Babylon 5 on DVD (are the regular episodes available?), Ian McEwan's Amsterdam (not badly written, but I wouldn't have given it a Booker Prize myself; the whole novel was too obviously a setup for the rather gimmicky ending), version 6.03 of Opera (no crashes yet!), and Ernst Mayr's What Evolution Is (recommended and lent by Bill, who really needs to get a weblog, or at least a web page, so I can make his name a link).

Consider that in the future it will be an utter faux pas to mention someone without making their name a link so people can find out just who you're referring to. When you mention things it probably won't be necessary, since people can just Google for things. But you can't usefully Google for "Bill", so you can't look up Bill unless I point you at him.

A reader mentioned to me earlier today that yesterday's entry was "a bit disjointed", or other words to that effect.

Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!

Rather wet, this rain, wouldn't you say?

Wednesday, May 29, 2002  permanent URL for this entry

I realized today that I've been neglecting the talking place shamefully (being spoiled now that the usual input boxes are back after our little 'kidnapped by aliens' problem the other month).

So let's see what-all has shown up in there for the last month or two...

You use words of me. But this place is still odd scent. Why do I care? It is not of you.

(I used those words back in April, and the reader with the nose responded shortly thereafter.) I think, actually, this is of me.

its nice to see someone who likes to take pictures while driving, like me, maybe someday we'll have a head on collision and get 2 really great pictures out of it

I look forward to it. *8) M discourages me from taking pictures while driving. But some can indeed be found, say, here (I like the lights in "Orange County Pools and Spas".)

I should start taking more pictures again.

I did'nt learn much about chess. But know when i talk to you the sun does shine. I agree the wicked witch should be sent away. At least i think thats what you said. You are all sounding more like me every day. Strange.

Strange indeed!

I didn't know much about chess. My friends always used to beat me. So I wrote a correspondence chess website so I could learn all about it. Now people I don't even know can beat me.
maybe see you there..?

Hm, people I don't even know beating me. Have to think about that. Will they be wearing high heels at all?

On that one above:

make that happen in front of a speed camera and you get 3.

Rather puzzlingly:

medieval sux so bad it is really bad like medieval sux

I'm sure that means something.

chess is for losers and geeks. chess is the most boring game in the whole entire world. so all i have to say to that is that chess SUCKS.
the chess and geek hater

D00d, chess players and geeks freakin' 0wn your sorry A33! Ch3ck 1t...

Then some very nice (and succinct) ASCII porn (hm, ASCII porn...), both soft-core:

( @ Y @ )

and hard-core:

(()) 8=====D~

On our clever proxy from the other day, a reader writes:

Another use for a proxy like MungProxy is to take control over internet appliances that call home -- like, say, a ReplayTV 4000. For things like that, you usually need a transparent proxy, but that's just a little different.

The main use for MungProxy lately has been to scam the scammers on Neopets (in complex and elaborate ways I don't have the breath to go into here), and buy the cheap and valuable things that they put into their shops to lure the unwary into revealing their passwords. They try to use tricky HTML to prevent anyone from buying these things, but me and MungProxy ain't afraid o' no tricky HTML...

And most recently eProf writes:

Just wondering if you ever found out "What the heck kind of name is "gastrocnemius" for a muscle, anyway? Sounds like a stomach disorder." One of my students asked me almost exactly the same thing, and I can't find any info about why this muscle got this name! Any help is appreciated.

I'm afraid I still have no clue on that one. Aren't there dictionaries of medical etymology, sitting on the bookshelf next to the candle-bearing skulls and the stuffed owls? Or aren't we doing those anymore?

From abuddhas memes, the very fun and highly visual Chrysalis Colossus.

From Synthetic Zero, this Wired article:

Bierman's work may have revealed a crude ability to sense the future, much like the "precogs" in the forthcoming Steven Spielberg movie Minority Report, even if this skill only spans a few heartbeats.

Yeah, or it may just be a misinterpretation of the data. Why am I such a skeptic, anyway? I guess I have the feeling that, if my body really could react to things a few seconds before they happened, the world would be a very different place than it apparently is.

Multi-cultural spam of the day:

Haben Sie einen Urlaub nach Italien geplant?

And similarly:

Hey, willst Du mal geile Stars nackt sehen ?

Amusingly, the link in that last one was to a directory called "/sexpage/fakes/", which suggests that while they may be nackt, they probably aren't Stars.

And our final trail: from Daze Reader to IFT to the Digital Medievalist to the very meaty and interesting (okay, so I'm a geek) Why Unicode Won't Work on the Internet: Linguistic, Political, and Technical Limitations.

And that's all, and hey look it isn't actually Wednesday here anymore. Whoa!

Tuesday, May 25, 2002  permanent URL for this entry

Well, I saw a lot of trees today,
and they were all made of wood.

They were wooden trees,
and they were all made entirely...

of wood.   --

Most recent Amazon purchases (still in transit): Laurie Anderson's "United States Live" (from which the above catchy lyric comes; it's from the "Walk the Dog" part of the album, which is also on the obscure cassette "Attack of the Killer B's" that I have in my car), Joan Baez's "Baptism" (I heard the tail end of "Who Murdered the Minutes" on Schickele Mix on the way to get bagels on Sunday, and although I didn't hear him say the artist or title, and the lyrics don't seem to be on the Web anywhere (!), I did catch just enough bits to identify it with a bit of Googling), and Gretchen Lieberum's "Brand New Morning", which I decided I was never going to get around to looking for in my Local Record Store.

an outlook on life
more than just a street address
One Microsoft Way

I post this here because I heard it somewhere a long time ago and thought it was worth preserving, and when I Googled for it it only got two hits. So soon maybe three...

News Flash: Factual Error Found on Internet. Yow!

Speaking of Microsoft and factual errors (har har), here are two of the latest:

A new worm has been discovered that takes advantage of an administrative account in Microsoft's SQL server that by default has no password. Ooooh, trustworthy computing at its best!

Similarly, good old Guninski has discovered that if you open an XML document in Excel XP, and that XML document is based on a style sheet, and you tell Excel to use the style sheet when it asks, that style sheet can (surprise!) do absolutely anything the author of the style sheet wanted it to do. Hey, the world is your desktop! And vice-versa. Suddenly, everything (not clicks, but) mooshes together...

Oddity o' the day: this.

So I got a new American Express (green) card in the mail today, and was once again annoyed to note that it says that it starts being useful in July, and the mailing that came with it said not to start using it until the date on it, and none of my other credit cards do that, and it's annoying to have to carry around two instances of the same credit card for a couple of months, so in a sudden burst of Consumer Activism I called up American Express and told them my card number three times (twice to a Voice and once to a Person) and waited on hold for awhile, and finally got a nice lady who told me, oh, that's okay, I can start using it right away.

I don't understand these big complicated universes. Maybe that's why I'm a programmer.

(Not to mention a NeoPets addict...)

Friday, May 24, 2002  permanent URL for this entry

From BrainLog, an interesting and important article, "Top Ten New Copyright Crimes", in which we find out that, like Mickey Eisner, Jamie Kellner, chairman and CEO of Turner Broadcasting (an AOL Time Warner company) is a fscking moron.

Your contract with the network when you get the show is you're going to watch the spots. Otherwise you couldn't get the show on an ad-supported basis. Any time you skip a commercial... you're actually stealing the programming.

Words fail yet again. How did such people reach such positions of power? I signed no contract with you, Buster, and your power-mad fantasies are not legalley binding on me.

Further depressing stuff along the same lines: they want to outlaw analog to digital converters, too.

More cheerfully, we are reminded by NTK that there are still really cool free hacks in the world: Google Sets. Does obvious and clever things with, like, "red / green / blue" or "manet / monet / matisse". Does odd and amusing things with, like, "mice / trees / grass" and "barney / baby bop" (lesbians, travel, strip clubs?). That's today, of course; who knows what it'll do tomorrow?

If you had a big network of computers that knew things about billions and billions of Web pages, what hacks would you do?

The little daughter and I went to see Star Wars: Attack of the Clowns Clones this afternoon (M and the little boy saw it the other day). The special effects are mostly great, with a few glaring exceptions (the "giant sheep-pig riding" scene looked breathtakingly fake, for instance). The overall theme, "formerly nice little kid becomes angry and problematic teenager due to clueless mentors, evil overlord, traumatic death of parent, and budding magical powers", is pretty well done.

In between those well-done things are the ragged tatters of a plot, with as many holes (to mix a metaphor) as the laciest lacy Swiss cheese. The utter inanity of the arrangement that throws Amidala and Anakin together in a romantic cabin / mansion for an extended period; the totally unbelievable coincidences that lead Obiwan to the forces behind the two armies; the implausible but necessary fact that Anakin had not only left his mother as a slave on Tatooine but had no idea where she was or what she was doing; Amidala's leaving Jar-Jar Binks in charge of the diplomatic mission while she's away (might as well have left the family dog); the tiny but annoying mystery of where she got all those different outfits there in the desert; and on and on and on.

While I certainly don't expect Star Wars movies to be models of plausibility at all times, the "oh come on!" factor in this one was, I'm afraid, strong enough to interfere somewhat with the enjoyment of the high-speed three-D car chases, the cool starships and factories and stuff, the pretty explosions, and the overall atmosphere of scenic doom, despair, and love in time of crisis.

On the other hand, we don't have to rack our brains anymore trying to picture Yoda wielding a light sabre! That was, of course, everyone's favorite scene...


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