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In autumn:
Thursday, October 16, 2003  permanent URL for this entry

The big news tonight is of course the freezing over of hell (the Apple front page currently says: "Hell froze over. / Introducing iTunes for Windows. / The best Windows app ever.").

Ian showed me this Windows iTunes this afternoon, and it was indeed very cool; it looks and acts just like the real iTunes! The fact that there are now a zillion audiobooks in the music store (hm, gonna change that store name?) is also very cool.

My questions are:

  • Is there going to be a "Mac users only" section, so we original iTunes users can shop without having to think about those Windows users touching all the music with their grubby virus-infected fingers?
  • Is the audiobook section really Audible (seems to be, as it has various Audible Exclusives like Susie Bright's "In Bed" column), and if so can I use my Audible Listener credits there?
  • Is Apple gonna release the SDK they used to produce a Windows app with an Aqua look-and-feel? That'd be fun.
  • How much of the codebase is shared between the two iTuneses?

(The bit about grubby-fingered Windows users is a joke. I'm in fact typing this very sentence on a ThinkPad running Windows XP. And my fingers are pretty clean.)

A spammer writes:

vacuum flask,coffee pot,auto mug,hip flask,cocktail shaker,cigar cutter,cigar tube & pipe,scooter

So I got the wrong Bible again! Dedicated readers will recall that in my quest for the Deuterocanonical books of the Bible I'd ordered a Catholic Bible from Amazon, only to discover when it came that it was just the New Testament (and all the deutero books are in the Old Testament). So then I (thought I) ordered the complete Catholic New American Bible from Amazon. It was from a Used bookstore, and it took a month to come via media mail, and when it arrived it turned out that it was a New American Standard Bible (my fault, not the seller's), which is something completely different, and Protestant, and deutero-less (lacking deuteros, having no deuteros, devoid of deuteros).

I think next time I'll go to a "bookstore" where you can actually inspect a Bible for deuteros before you buy it.

Another spammer writes:

Y2hlc3NAdGhlb2dlbnkuY29t and finally reaches town in the morning. The people in town laugh and stare at the young hillbillyAnd by following of mind and that rituals do not erase the effects of pass acts; 2.Right motives: the quality of the drive behind the thinking and being free from carnal thirst and appearantly the pilot dies leaving only children on the island. From this point on you have to be aware that the plot in this book plays a very minor role in its understanding. Two boys Atticus Finch

I know I shouldn't be so amused by these things since they're of nefarious intent. But really, they're like random gifts from the Goddess!

Wiser geeks than I will have to explain what this one means:

VeriSign to Sell Network Solutions Business to Pivotal Private Equity

.com and .net Registry and Naming and Directory Services Infrastructure to Remain with VeriSign as Cornerstone of Internet Infrastructure Business

Apparently they're selling the Registrar business, but keeping the Registry business. Wonder what that means. The fact that some major net-related something has been sold to an entity named "Pivotal Private Equity" is very Early XXIst Century somehow.

From Amptoons, a great opportunity for liberals to be smug:

The researchers then asked where the respondents most commonly went to get their news. The fair and balanced folks at Fox, the survey concludes, were "the news source whose viewers had the most misperceptions."

Too bad I hid a boot.

ftrain has a great idea:

All The Brands Names I Can See While Typing Without Turning My Head or Moving My Eyes

For me, at work while I was jotting this item down, it was IBM, IBM, IBM, IBM (well naturally), "Atlanta 1996" (does that count?), JBL (the speakers), Pepsi, ROLM, Intel, Opera, Java, and the Microsoft flying-window logo just visible on the ThinkPad's wristrest under my left thumb.

Here at home in the living room it's pretty much nothing at all except (amusingly) the davidchess.com logo on my T-shirt (hey look, I'm having a sale on tote bags!). Even my left hand has slid down a bit and is covering up the MS logo. And Eclipse is closed so the Java brand isn't showing anymore. Ah, there's still the name "Opera" up in the corner of the browser there. That doesn't annoy me too much. (Ah, and there's a MS flying window on the "Start" button; does that count? Probably.) If my eyes were better I could probably make out the brand names on the various pieces of media equipment and game consoles over there in the corner, but I can't.

Top Twenty Security Badthings. For some notion of "Top" and "Security Badthing".

Look what came in the mail!

The Duck in the book does not resemble Real Ducks.

Blegvad is a genius also.

Wednesday, October 15, 2003  permanent URL for this entry

When I was a kid my parents and I went to a play at some relatively local playhouse. I forget what the play was, but I remember two things from it: one lyric was roughly "Your father sent me off to war; guess he thought I'd die; no luck!", and one number (a different one?) involved many members of the cast walking around in circles on the stage making odd stiff arm movements (hand to elbow, other hand to other elbow, etc) and singing lyrics that included something like "he said fuck fucka wucka wucka, cock cocka wocka wocka, puss pussa wussa wussa, fuck fucka wucka wucka, wow!".

It took me more than one repetition to convince myself (young and innocent as I was) that that was what they were actually saying, and I remember looking around at the rest of the audience and concluding from their lack of reaction that I must be the only one who'd noticed. (Isn't that cute?)

Anyone have any idea what that play was?

In an old input box a reader writes ominously:


Must be a DB2 user.


China Launches Historic Space Mission. Way to go, China! Now get that little totalitarianism problem fixed, and we can go explore the galaxy!

In other Modern World News, "In a major legal breakthrough for advocates of marijuana as medicine, the Supreme Court rebuffed an effort by the federal government to stop doctors from suggesting that treatment option to their patients". Good stuff! Maybe Ashcroft and company will have to start chasing criminals that have, like, victims now.

Dear Portal Administration!

I have recently come across your site and liked it very much.

I suppose that the visitors of our resources belong to the same social group and my site could be useful for your audience so I suggest to exchange our links. This will help both of us to increase Link-Popularity and accordingly get top positions in many searching system, Google for instance.

My site is dedicated to guns.

Happiness, you know, is a warm gun.

Bang bang, shoot shoot.

Steve notices an online version of our recent nostalgic paper "Merry Christma: An Early Network Worm". Ah, those were simpler times.

In other geekery, Analysis of the MediaMax CD3 Copy-Prevention System. (This is the one where some copy-protection company was threatening to sue a student for revealing that their CD copy protection scheme was utterly trivial to bypass.)

From Bookslut (who I must keep mentioning just because I like typing the name), 10 MISTAKES WRITERS DON'T SEE (BUT CAN EASILY FIX WHEN THEY DO) (that site doesn't really understand permalinks; if that link doesn't point to what I say it does, this one probably will (although it doesn't at the moment)). It's a good read, although I don't agree with all of her criticisms. Her "improvement" of a Graham Greene sentence with a bunch of decorative commas, for instance, seems to me to suck much of the life out of it. I'm always a bit skeptical when people who aren't world-famous writers find fault with the writings of people who are. Not that that can't usefully be done; but a certain amount of salt is appropriate.

And speaking of salt, while doing some more cleaning up in the library I came across an old copy of Matthew J. Costello's "Wurm", lying face-down and open on top of some other books. I read most of it months or years ago, on a previous library-neatening expedition, but never finished it; so this evening I picked it up and finally did (starting up again 80% of the way through was no problem).

Pretty much your typical "evil mutant life forms from the dawn of creation rise from the seabottom and take over human bodies" sort of thing, with an odd side-plot about evil daemons from another dimension thrown in for good measure. The side-plot never really gets resolved; I wonder if he ever wrote a sequel. Digging around on the Web reveals a possibly related book called "Garden", but I dunno. I'm not really into mutant zombie horror novels anyway, but I am sort of curious.

Tuesday, October 14, 2003  permanent URL for this entry

Gad, between kids, their activities, their pets, the PTA Book Fair, and oh yeah a certain amount of "prove your worthiness using PowerPoint" at work, this is set to be a pretty stressful week.

I'm not really fond of stress.

Just when I was feeling pretty overwhelmed (self-indulgently, I admit, but still overwhelmed) I got a letter from out of the blue from someone that I greatly admire, just touching base and asking how and what I was doing. That the person even remembered I existed was highly gratifying.

So that was nice. (The Goddess is kind.)

I finished Baxter's "Vacuum Diagrams"; it wasn't awful, but it still had that odd "the only interesting thing about humans for the next million years is how fast their spaceships go" property to it.

Then I started Kingsbury's "Psychohistorical Crisis". (One of the books mentioned by Vinge the other week; did I mention I had lunch with Vernor Vinge?) It's very different.

"Crisis" is also set way far in the future (although only about eighty thousand years, not 100 thousand or a few million). It's also about a world where humans haven't experienced a Vingian Singularity and become incomprehensible to present-day minds. But the people in Kingsbury's universe have a history. There are empires that have risen and fallen, stories that go back into the mists of time (tales of old Rith), customs that have evolved in odd ways, societies that have come together and moved apart, alliances, hatreds, and all like that there. Their technology is sometimes odd and interesting, and it shapes them.

In Baxter's universe, on the other hand (at least the one visible in Vacuum Diagrams), we seldom see people living their lives, or the ways their lives change with the aeons. They do develop the ability to upload themselves into computers, but apparently the ability is virtually never used (or if it is it doesn't appear in this book). People appear mostly in supporting roles to the various bits of cosmological physics that are the actual main characters. The Xeelee, for instance, never seem to speak to the humans; it makes no sense, but it's more or less necessary to the grand universe-spanning plot. The only time we see humans actually living human lives is a tiny degenerate tribe living rather unconvincing lives in hide teepees inside an odd topological artifact.

Maybe some other Baxter novel would be more satisfying to me. Or maybe I'm just more interested in the effects of technology on human culture, whereas Baxter is more interested in the role of dark matter in the evolution of galaxies.

Political tidbit o' the day:

Letters from hometown soldiers describing their successes rebuilding Iraq have been appearing in newspapers across the country as U.S. public opinion on the mission sours.

And all the letters are the same.

I don't think that's what "an army of one" is supposed to mean...

Monday, October 13, 2003  permanent URL for this entry

From Bill: What's wrong with the electric grid?

Morford ran a letter from me in the Morning Fix! Gorsh! (He ran some mostly favorable letters for a change, instead of the funny flaming right-wing whacko hatemail he usually runs; mine was last. Does that mean he liked it best? You can't read the Fix on the Web; I suspect sfgate doesn't want to risk anyone coming across it on their site and getting upset about the sex, blasphemy, etc.)

At the same time the President lauded the "great courage" of the soldiers he sent to Iraq, he requested major cuts in the Impact Aid program that provides funds for the schooling of the 900,000 children of military families. Bush tried to take $172 million from Impact Aid and shortchange its funding by $583 million under the No Child Left Behind Act. The cutbacks would have directly affected children of troops currently deployed in Iraq.


Subject: Clark this is for men     his son happy. Princess Mary went on to ask Natasha to fix a time bksehth

And more spam:

I would like to invite you to this, once in a lifetime offer. This is an amazingly simly way to your exponential growth no matter what your business!

Amazingly simly!

Cloaking Device Made for Spammers: "Call them spackers -- they're the new breed of computer crackers who earn a living in cahoots with spammers."

Did you blow Valerie Plame's cover? If not, you can sign the affadavit to help narrow down the list of suspects. (If you did, you can probably get on TV.)

Just heard on Jimmy Neutron: "Those are the Peace and Love Monks across the valley; we're the Law and Order Monks."

So wow I dunno. I've been doing more cleaning up of the library and the back room table and stuff. The little daughter seems to have caught the bug too, and has been cleaning out her closets (it's an odd house; her room has two tiny closets). But why would you possibly want to know about that?

What's the whole point, anyway? Why do we do stuff? Why do you do stuff? To avoid pain and suffering, of course. But what about all this other stuff? Maybe it's just to avoid pain and suffering also, indirectly and long-term? Or is it just stuff that we happened to get into the habit of? Is there some other stuff that we could be doing instead that would be better in some relevant sense of "better"? What would make some sense of "better" relevant? What's it all about, Alfie?


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