19 may 2000 · rectal-cranial inversion

Wow, nothing like writing an update, sending out an email to the update list, and then forgetting to actually upload it. sigh Make sure to check out yesterday's entry too, while you're here and all, and sorry for sending out the bogus mail.

In the "No Shame" category, I present to you the HOTice Stealth Compiler for Perl. Only US$995. It's an obfuscator, from the sound of it -- much like RJ's Perl Obfuscator, which I've mentioned before. Of course, that one'll cost you about a kilobuck less, but what the hell.

Opps. Turns out some genetically modified oilseed rape plants were accidentally imported into the UK. On one hand, this confirms some concerns about pollen from modified plants spreading modifications to un-modified cultivars. On the other hand, the plants have been growing "in the wild" for two years without causing any perceptible problems.

zzzxzy linked to me in the context of a discussion about the genetics of homosexuality, or more properly, a discussion about the possibility of a genetic component to homosexuality. It's an interesting topic, and one that I'm not going to even attempt to get into, but I will respond to Ryan's comment that "I kind of think of sex as something rather artificial.", just to note that the act isn't artificial, but some (probably not all) of the social constructs that have been built up around the act are.

"Your tax dollars at work" department : Certain members of Congress are concerned about online genealogy databases:

"There are some commercial ventures now providing information on this subject ... oftentimes genealogical information involves a mother's maiden name, and that is often used by many as a password," [Rep. Ed Pease (R-Ind.)] said.

Because if Congress won't protect your Gawd-given right to pick a crappy password, who will?

"Quick fix" department: So ILOVEYOU bitchslapped the FedGov's mail systems. So, of course:

"Clearly, more needs to be done to enhance the government's ability to collect, analyze and distribute timely information that can be used by agencies to protect their critical information systems from possible attack," [Jack Brock, the top GAO information management expert] said.

Deleting fscking MS Outlook off all FedGov computers is apparently too complex and unwieldy a task -- plus, it would probably interfere with the rights of the workers, or something. Furrfu.

Newzilla is a site targeted at Mozilla (and Netscape 6) newbies. I'm considering switching to Mozilla, but if I do, I want to totally dump Netscape, because I know otherwise I'll slip back into using it. Anybody else done this? Having any problems that I should know about? mail me -- jacobs@genehack.org.

Here's a guide to getting started writing Gnome panel applets. I'm working on learning C at work -- lots and lots of reading, interspersed with bouts of hacking. I'm really struggling, as I keep wanting to think in Perl idiom, and that just doesn't work with C. I just need to keep at it, but I'm beginning to understand why some people think learning a high level language first is bad. (I actually came to programming via C, but all my "real","serious" coding has been Perl.)

The Dewbie looks like it might be worth checking out, assuming that it grows.

XEmacs/GTK is in beta, according to William Perry, the guy doing the coding. In addition to the coolness of being able to apply GTK themes to XEmacs (and being able to do away with the crufty Athena stuff that's made building from source a real PITA), this project is interesting because it's being funded by BeOpen via sourcexchange.com. I built it at work, under Solaris, and it works pretty well. If I get the time, I'll built it at home this weekend. It sounds decently stable, and William has said he's actually using it for the development, so it must be pretty solid.

Speaking of XEmacs and weekend projects, BBDBpalm exports your .bbdb to your Palm. Sweet!

Okay, that should be enough to take you into the weekend. Don't forget to read yesterday's update as well, since I forgot to upload it and all. Have a good weekend, and I'll see you Monday. (Except you and you and, oh yes, you, who I will see Friday night.)

18 may 2000 · too much good stuff

Hey all -- just enough time to dash off a few quick ones before bed. I spent the majority of my time this evening at the DCLUG/Internet Society panel discussion about UCITA. Roblimo of /. was there, and I'm sure he'll be doing a better job of writing things up than I could, so I'll spare you my version. I went in thinking UCITA was bad; I came out knowing it was bad, but I'm still glad I went.

mutantwatch.com: It's nice that these movie tie in websites are getting more clever, but couldn't they come up with a way to do it without polluting the domain name space?

Seen several other places, the U. S. surname distribution map is pretty interesting. Anderson, of course, is very widely distributed. I was surprised at how rare Jacobs (my other surname) is.

Prince warns of 'playing God'. The irony here is so thick I'm not sure where to start.

Who is Diggit Software, and why do they keep showing up in my referrer logs?

Okay, before I ride off into the sunset, a clarification. On the 15th, I called my USB Visor cradle "fragile". Greg KH, the author of the Linux driver for the USB Visor (who happens to be a reader) contacted me, in order to find out what the problems were. As I went about thinking about the issues I had had (flakiness, and a couple of hard locks), I realized that they could all be explained by my thrashing around trying to get things to work. Once I got past a little confusion about when to hit the HotSync button, things settled down, and have been quite stable. I'm explaining all this because I didn't want anyone to read the previous entry and then make a purchase based in part on that information, which has turned out to be incorrect. A big "Thanks" to Greg, for reading, for writing the driver in the first place, and for taking the time to follow up with me.

Okay, now bed. Real update tomorrow, kay?

16 may 2000 · visor boy

I really should be going to bed instead of blogging, but...

Unlike (apparently) every other 'blogger in the world, I'm a Brown on the color test:

BROWN is a credible and stable color. Reminiscent of fine wood, rich leather, and wistful melancholy, brown is the color of academia. Most likely, you are a logical and pragmatic individual who is ruled more by your head than your heart. You have an inquisitive mind and an insatiable curiosity. Browns are great problem solvers. They gather all of the facts before coming to a timely and informed decision. You are intrigued easily and always find new ways to challenge your mind. Brown is an impartial and neutral color. Most likely, you know the difference between fact and opinion, and are open to many points of view.

("Pretty accurate, actually", he said modestly)

Want a free issue of the Nature with the article on sequencing Chromosome 21? Go here.

Damn! I'd been meaning to blog the Linux Virus thing for a couple of days, but kept forgetting. Flutterby beat me to it.

From Eatonweb, it sounds as if Blogger has been having some issues of late. If you've got CGI access on your server, but lack the time or knowledge to roll your own tools, Poor Man's Blogger might be worth a look.

'Blogged so it will one day be in my database system: www.e-cell.org, a project to simulate a living cell in silico.

Also for the forthcoming database: the RNA webring, web sites relating to RNA research.

Some interesting and (to me) paradoxical results linking mothers' eating practices and weight of their female children. In a nutshell, mothers who are trying to diet tend to restrict their daughters' feeding too, which appears to lead to a lack of self-regulation when presented with an unregulated feeding opportunity, and subsequent "heaviness". Leaving aside all the societal baggage that this story could raise, I just think it's fascinating how much our parents shape us, even when they don't mean to. The older I get, the more I see of my mother and (especially) my father in my mannerisms and reactions. I'm also much less freaked out about that than I would have thought I'd be.

Finally, I'll pass along something from the DCLUG mailing list, from Brett McCoy, who credits his wife Amy for the following:

Blame Microsoft(to the tune of "Blame Canada")

Times have changed
Our systems are getting worse
They won't obey the users
And just make them want to curse

Should we blame the Internet?
Or blame society?
Or should we blame a great big monopoly?

Heck, yes!

Blame Microsoft!
Blame Microsoft!
With the registry we despise
And all their security lies

Blame Microsoft!
Blame Microsoft!
We need to break up the company
For causing agony!

(Enter Bill Gates)

(Begin solo)

Don't blame me
'Cuz Windows Sucks
You should have stuck with DOS or Mac or better yet,

(End solo)

(Enter Windows user)

(Begin solo)

Well, my Pentium II
Running Windows 98
Is slower than my Amiga from 1988!

(End solo)

Well, blame Microsoft
Blame Microsoft!
It seems that everything's gone wrong
Ever since Microsoft came along

Blame Microsoft!
Blame Microsoft!
They cannot make a real OS anyway

(Enter Mrs. Gates)

(Begin solo)

My son always said "640K's enough!", maybe less
Now I need 75 freaking megs just to run DNS!

(End solo)

Should we blame the hardware?
Should we blame the code?
Or the people who allow it to explode?

Heck, no!

Blame Microsoft!
Blame Microsoft!
With a virus like ILOVEYOU
And that b*tch Melissa, too!

Blame Microsoft!
Shame on Microsoft!

This machine I will shoot
If I have to reboot

A simple breeze
Makes the screen saver freeze

Their help desk cannot help, of course
If only we had gone with open soooooooource!

See y'all tomorrow...

15 may 2000 · vanishing...

Hey. Not sure what happened towards the end of last week, but I did get some coding done, and some design work. The new look is almost ready to roll. I had hoped to get it done this weekend, but that just didn't happen.

Well, I officially graduated on Saturday. I'm now a Real Doctor. Woo-hoo! To celebrate, I went out today and bought a Visor. An orange one. Anybody got any pointers for good PalmOS w4r3z? I found AportisDoc, I got my USB cradle working with Linux (although it's pretty fragile -- I need to look into updating my source, I think), now I need some games and stuff.

Okay, onto the 'bloggin. Here's one more reason why Windows for kisoks is wrong. Imagine the possibilities of Back Orificing one of those boxes.

Something's afoot at the Foop Fort.

Okay, I realize this was last week, and I'm really behind, and blah blah blah, but I was really disappointed that McCain endorsed Bush. Talk about selling out everything you were supposed to stand for. Sheesh.

This article ran last week in Wired, bemoaning the current state of academic genomics. I think it's pretty far off base -- not everybody wants to work in a business environment, and those who stay in academentia aren't necessary going to be any less inventive or daring than those making the industry plunge. People don't go into academics for money, so trying to understand them by looking solely at that is a good way to be wrong. Consider, for example, that (broadly speaking) industry scientists don't publish nearly as much as their academic colleagues, and that status (quite important to some) is closely tied to publication record -- then you'll begin to understand what's going on.

In other genomics news, Wired has a wrap-up of the recent CSHL meeting on the human genome sequencing effort.

Well, I think that about wraps it up -- pretty sorry lot for a Monday, eh? I'll be back tomorrow, hopefully it'll get better.

GeneHack can be found at http://genehack.org.
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by John S Jacobs Anderson <jacobs@genehack.org>.
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