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archives: august 2001
friday, august 31, 2001
RevokeThePrize.org is trying to revoke Yasser Arafat's Nobel Peace Prize. click here to sign their petition and find out why this matters.
Quite a few of the firms trading on Nasdaq seem to be trying to distance themselves from the troubled “new economy” by changing their names, losing the .coms and the cybers and the 'e' prefixes. What I found interesting about this article: when interviewed for the record, not one of the spokespersons for these companies was willing to admit it.
The email encoding feature has now been extended to cover all email addresses stored in our comments pages, whether or not you've saved your address in our preferences page. So if you've been reluctant to leave your email address because you're a-feared of the evil spambots...fear no more.
Helvetica Bold Oblique swept the Fonty Awards this year, winning the coveted 2001 Best Font Prize and 10 other awards.
thursday, august 30, 2001
A new feature here at lgf: if you use our preferences page to store your name, email address, and font preferences in a cookie, we now encode your email address with character entities, making it very difficult for spambots to harvest. (The address will display correctly in any browser, but if you view the page's source code you'll see the raw encoded string.)
Why? Because we care.
I just read this article at Mercury News: Quicken '02 -- OS X version has limits. And the writer is either:
1. a complete idiot, or
Here's an example:
The problem with Quicken 2002 for the Mac is that it can't talk to as many financial institutions as its Windows counterpart can. Right now, it takes data only from Fidelity Investments and TD Waterhouse. Thus I was unable to download E*Trade brokerage account information to my Mac, though I could do it in the Windows version of Quicken. This E*Trade inconvenience foreshadows bigger problems unless Apple moves to prevent more cases of incompatibility involving data on Internet servers.
Picture, if you will, a middle-echelon support weasel at Intuit, filling a gullible reporter's ear with absolute bullshit.
More on the pop-up ads issue, at SF Gate: Web designers complain new ad programs hijack their sites.
Here's some more fascinating high speed photography. (This site is a mirror of the original, set up when the original got “slashdotted.” It's anybody's guess how long it will stay up...)
The Interactive Advertising Bureau is about to file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission, alleging that Gator.com is engaging in deceptive business practices and interfering with business relationships. At Wired: Guerrilla Ad Banner Battle Looms.
Of course, the main focus of these groups is how Gator's practices affect other businesses. The article does not even mention the fact that Gator's sneakware is usually installed without the user's knowledge or consent—a much more serious issue in the long run.
At Salon: The failure of zero tolerance.
At its most extreme, evocation of zero tolerance has resulted in an 11-year-old being hauled off in a police van for packing a plastic knife in her lunchbox to cut chicken; a 14-year-old held in an adult jail and charged with "strong-armed" theft for stealing $2 from his classmate; a fifth-grader expelled for a year for hiding razor blades from a friend he thought might use them to harm another; a fourth grader suspended for wearing a Tweety Bird chain on his neck; and, in a tale that would be comic if it weren't true, a 6-year-old cited for "sexual harassment" for running out of the bath naked in his own home to tell the bus driver to wait for him.
wednesday, august 29, 2001
And the survey says: We Won't Pay For Web Music.
Consumers have not accepted purchasing and downloading music via the Web and are not likely to change with the new services being developed by the recording industry, according to a survey by research firm GartnerG2 on Wednesday.
Velonews has a good interview with Lance Armstrong; he talks about drugs in cycling, Greg LeMond's comments, his possible attempt at the hour record, and more.
In my screed about the mundane web, I mentioned green June beetles. Of course we got hit right away with a search request for the critters. So here's a picture of one little fighter crawling on some bricks in my back yard. This is pretty close to actual size; about an inch long.
On the surface this is just an everyday story about a woman who went to court naked. But the good part is the backstory; she belongs to a Christian sect that believes in nudity and arson?
What better way to start a Wednesday than with a story about a bitter, homophobic, drunken clown?
Perri denies making rude comments or grabbing women, but the beer drinking is one fact he'll own up to - though he confesses he usually doesn't have a drink until about 2 or 3 in the afternoon. "I drink my beer. I got one kidney so I got to keep it working."
tuesday, august 28, 2001
MySQL is a harsh mistress. You must love it, or it will hurt you very badly. Love it! Now worship it, you pig!
I've been doing a crash course in mySQL for the past few days (can you tell I'm getting a bit punchy?), and asked the kind, gracious, and exceedingly sanguine members of the webdesign-L mailing list to recommend books and online resources that would help. Here are some of the links they showered on me:
mySQL.com :: The official mySQL site. You must go here first, to be amazed and overawed. And deeply puzzled. Actually it's not that bad; look at part 3 of the online manual for a pretty good SQL tutorial with occasionally mangled English.
SQL Tutorial, Part 1 :: A very good introductory tutorial, with an online DB you can mess with (although I haven't tried to actually do this yet). Seems to be part of internet.com.
SQL Tutorial, Part 1 :: Part II of the internet.com SQL tutorial.
evolt: SQL Resources :: Very good list of links to more SQL resources at evolt.
Building a Database-Driven Web Site :: This one was right at the level I needed; probably the most well-written and in-depth series, covering development of a relational Jokes database. Gets into some more advanced concepts such as lookup tables. Really good.
Index of Developer Shed MySQL articles :: Looks good, but I haven't even started to look through any of them yet.
The original spec for the IP standard allowed for about 4.3 billion unique addresses. If the internet continues to grow at its present rate, all of these addresses will have been assigned within 5 years. So what happens then?
Now here's something to really look forward to. Toyota is about to inflict on the US one of the biggest, most concentrated ad campaigns in history.
In what it bills as the largest integrated marketing effort in automotive history, the Japanese carmaker aims to reach 90 percent of all Americans more than eight times apiece in the next 60 days.
Blue Abuse is a showcase of interactive QuickTime content that covers everything from complete QuickTime sites to individual QuickTime movies.
Iran's Deputy Foreign Minister woke up Monday morning and after his mandatory 3 hours of prayer a question suddenly occurred to him: Do Floggings Hurt Country's Image Abroad? (I don't know. You think?)
“Not all bodies in Iran share (Khatami's) policy of detente and building up trust (with the West). Some are creating a condition to make the world disillusioned with our model of Islamic democracy. The behavior of the judiciary and security forces largely affect our foreign relations and create problems for us,” he said, shortly before being dragged to the public square and flogged.
OK, so they may have been a few shingles shy of a roof, but these guys sure knew how to party.
monday, august 27, 2001
No sooner do I post the entry about the web crawler from the IBM Almaden Research Center than a new robot pokes its automated nose into our business: malfunction.org | picture of internet. This one seems to be trying to build a real-time collage of images grabbed from crawled sites. Interesting!
We must have poked our heads above the general internet noise somehow, because we're getting hit by new web crawlers daily. The latest one, which found us just a little while ago, is from IBM's Almaden Research Center.
Incredible photography by Misha Gordin; you'll swear it's digitally manipulated, but each photo is assembled by hand in the darkroom. A must-see. And here's a statement from the artist, explaining his philosophy of photographing concepts.
smog.net has a wonderfully varied collection of first rate art, writing, photography, and “curiosities,” including a sabotage manual for Nicaraguans published by the CIA.
Will Sparky escape from The Planet of the Dubyas?
This story falls under the heading of “things that people shouldn't have to be told”: Lawmaker Proposes Ban on Shark Feeding.
Good article at the Washington Post about the need for cars and bicycles to share the road peacefully: Can We All Please Try To Share? (Do I think it will make any difference? No. But it's still a good article.)
WebReference has a good article on how they duplicated their home page layout using only CSS (no tables): Advanced CSS Layouts: Step by Step. Every time I read one of these articles, though, I'm struck by the lengthy trial-and-error process and extensive workarounds required to do even the simplest things and have them work the same way in all CSS-capable browsers.
Entry #1000 - The Leakey Foundation recently made its Audio Archives available online. "These selected excerpts from interviews and lectures are firsthand recollections of many of paleoanthropology's great pioneers describing moments of discovery and sharing anecdotes from their research experiences in the field."
The article about Jupiter Media Metrix's conclusion that people are sticking to sites they know and shying away from free-form web surfing is getting a lot of notice. But I haven't yet seen anyone mention what I think may be an important factor contributing to this shift in web habits. (If it's really happening at all, which is far from proven at this point.)
For the past couple of weeks, we've had these huge iridescent green beetles in our yard. Some of them are more than an inch long, and they fly. If they buzz you, they sound like miniature Mack trucks with hummingbird wings. (Don't worry. This will eventually tie in to the “mundane web” topic.)
Since I'm always eager to expand my entomological knowledge, I decided to find out what type of beetles they were by using that wonderful free research tool we all know and love (although in an increasingly mundane way), the internet. Google produced a list of sites with info on the various species of beetles; after a little clicking around I discovered that our critters are called Green June Beetles. That's the good part of the web; it really works for stuff like this.
But the page where I found this information (which looked like a kids' research site, possibly high-school level) was unbelievably loaded with every possible annoying, intrusive advertising scam.
To start with, a persistent DHTML layer containing a lottery ad, anchored to the lower left of the window so that it always obscured part of the text. Taking a chance, I clicked on the “close box” of this demonic little creation, and was surprised that it actually disappeared without taking me to some sleazy website.
The page also spawned two popunder windows, one with that lying “You have one message waiting” scam, and one for a credit card.
And finally, when I left the site, already feeling greatly annoyed at the barrage of sleaze, it popped up another window advertising mortgage loans.
Guess what? This kind of thing is definitely starting to affect my web surfing habits. I don't think it takes an analyst for Jupiter Media Metrix to tell us that if you make enough web sites annoying by overloading them with intrusive ads, habits will change.
The web is beginning to remind me of a neighborhood that used to be nice, but has been overrun by fortune tellers, porn stores, and gangs. You might still go there because there's a deli on the corner that makes great sandwiches, but you go straight to the deli, get out as soon as you have your sandwich, and look over your shoulder the whole time.
Closing in on entry #1000, we're feeling a bit hungry; might be time for one of those meals men like.
The Southwest Research Institute has produced a computer simulation of the huge impact that formed the moon.
sunday, august 26, 2001
Entry #995 goes to antcity, a hilarious Shockwave game thingy that lets you control a giant magnifying glass and focus it on the inhabitants of a city. No redeeming social value here whatsoever.
Hey, this is post #994! Post #1000 is right around the corner; come on Greymatter, just a little further, you can do it!
At McSweeney's: Rock Stardom in One Easy Lesson.
Gorgeous line art and Flash pieces at beetleBLUE.
It's a comedy apocalypse at Asian Bastard's new site, dammitalltohell.com. The Joke of the Day is genius.
Daniel Cody's evolt article (see below) reminds me of a thought I had when I first learned about the robots.txt file. It's a good way to let robots and spiders know which pages in your site should be searched and indexed, especially for database-driven sites. But the touchingly naive Disallow directive should be avoided like the new Michael Jackson album, except for pages with information you really don't care about.
Do you leave a note on your front door telling the world where your valuables are hidden?
Where did all these robots come from? They're all over me! Get 'em off! Aaahhhh!
It's not a ghost, it's a monkey.
saturday, august 25, 2001
Another mind-boggling image from the Hubble Space Telescope. (Scroll down for links to higher resolution images.)
According to “new research” the average person's use of the internet has shifted from enthusiastic web surfing to a more mundane desire to get the job done.
Now here's Flash with impact; professional production values all around in Ninjai: The Little Ninja. Very impressive! So impressive that their site is getting swamped; you may not be able to get on. There's a list of mirrors. Keep trying, it's worth it. (via metafilter.)
San Francisco columnist Norman Solomon on the ravaging of cyberspace by rampaging minks. Sorry, I meant rampant consumerism.
Malaysian spiritual healer Hairul Hambali has captured a real live vampire! He's keeping it in a jar! (Yes, there's a photo!)
One of the ugliest things about American politics (and also one of the most amusing!) is its broad streak of anti-intellectual religion-based intolerance. Here's a deceptively simple statement that Alabama Governor Don Siegelman managed to squeeze out of his dangerously overtaxed cranium earlier this week, that neatly demonstrates all of the above qualities and throws in some homophobia for good measure: parents should tell their sons that “if God had wanted you to wear earrings, He'd have made you a girl.”
The Poynter Institute of Journalism has a fun Flash introduction to color theory: Color, Contrast, and Dimension in News Design.
friday, august 24, 2001
South African men are the biggest bastards in the world. I am not surprised at all. I spent 3 weeks in South Africa with Al Jarreau (we hit all the big cities: Johannesburg, Port Elizabeth, Durban, and Capetown), and let me tell ya—they have some very hard core white people down there. I saw some incredibly violent fights break out at a couple of our concerts in Johannesburg. (And remember, this is Al Jarreau we're talking about. Not Limp Bizkit. “We're In This Love Together.” If you feel like fighting at an Al Jarreau concert, you're a serious hard ass.)
At Mike's Militia: the Gates Mission. Objective: To help Bill Gates recoup the massive amount of money he loses whenever small charities make copies of his already-purchased, outdated software while trying to assist desperately poor children.
Many test users were dismayed at the amount of patches that their computers needed despite their conviction that they had been running secure systems.
Here are some great new photos of Jupiter's moons— some of the strangest real estate in the solar system.
Very pretty design at fathom5, the successor to Astounding Websites.
Any record album that costs 30 million dollars is pretty much guaranteed to be unmitigated shit. Especially one by a self-created sideshow freak. Prediction: for $30M he'll get an antiseptic product devoid of anything resembling humanity or feeling, with every little self-indulgent neutered squeak carefully equalized for maximum sonic impact by a focus group of industry weasels and expensive big-name talentless producers, all of them bloated like leeches on expense accounts that would dwarf the GNPs of many third world countries.
What's not to love about the music business?
Some numbskull animal rights activists in Holland thought it would be a great idea to “liberate” 16,800 mink from a farm near the Belgian border.
The animals have left a trail of destruction, killing chickens, peacocks and parrots.
Before you make another call on that cell phone, take a moment, close your eyes and reflect on all you've done for Mama Doudou, queen of the rain-forest whores.
thursday, august 23, 2001
Very interesting article at The Standard about the privacy issues raised by introducing smart phones, wireless networks, and digital TV services (among other gadgets) into the homes of ordinary folks. Do you think we can trust the companies that manufacture these devices to think through the privacy issues and behave ethically? Or do you think (as I do) that many of them will exploit this unprecedented access into unsuspecting people's lives to the hilt?
The big wheels of the music industry are going after mp3.com again. It's clear that the blood in the water for this latest batch of lawyers is the PressPlay technology that Sony is preparing to launch, based on the mp3.com backend.
Here's a great article on Hawaiian slack key guitar: Picking Up The Slack Key With Cyril Pahinui. I grew up in Hawaii and was privileged to meet and hang out with Cyril's dad, the great Gabby Pahinui; my rock band used to rehearse near where he lived in Waimanalo.
Microsoft has licensed an important core technology from its developer, the Horned One.
More interesting news this morning, on the subject of how far we should trust Microsoft: Lobbyists Tied to Microsoft Wrote Citizens' Letters.
Letters purportedly written by at least two dead people landed on the desk of Utah Atty. Gen. Mark Shurtleff earlier this year, imploring him to go easy on Microsoft Corp. for its conduct as a monopoly.
In the recent Service Pack 2 upgrade for Internet Explorer 5.5, Microsoft has quietly removed all support for Netscape-style plug-ins. This means that both Quicktime and RealPlayer stop working, and oddly enough, the only way people can view multimedia content is with Windows Media Player.
Just a coincidence, I'm sure.
Anyway, Apple has responded quickly with an ActiveX control for Quicktime.
wednesday, august 22, 2001
Lance Armstrong will finish his season by racing in the San Francisco Grand Prix on September 9! It's a 125 mile race that even goes up Fillmore Street. (Kill me now.) Cool. I may just have to find time to drive up to see that.
Searching Google for the origin of the spider referred to in the previous post, I discovered this interesting page in Russian with a list of user agent strings for WAP-related web crawlers.
We got hit almost a thousand times early this morning by a user agent identifying itself as:
Obviously something Google is doing. Hmmm. Perhaps I should do a Google search to find out more...
A good article on web font readability: HTML E-Mail: Text Font Readability Study.
Man Chops Off Testicle in Job Protest. Gotta admit that is more impressive than singing “We Shall Overcome” in Spanish.
Mr. Gates goes to Washington. Well, not really. Bill's writing crackpot equations on toilet paper made of $1000 bills as he sits on his $1.2 million Italian travertine marble water closet.
No offense, Mr. Gates. I'm sure you're a very nice obscenely rich Machiavellian cutthroat capitalist. I'm just still a little peeved about that whole Code Red thing; the first of the month we'll probably see another round of attacks, because there are still plenty of zombie machines out there, some of which may have been compromised even further as a result of CR3's wide open backdoor.
And here you are in DC, telling the country you can be trusted with millions of customers' financial information. Da noive. Oooh, I oughtta...
At Salon (enjoy it while you still can), Robert Scheer with a thought-provoking column: Dog days for God.
The pretense that religion is inevitably an ennobling experience stands in absurd denial of a harsh reality reported in daily headlines. A dangerous pretense, but one that politicians find all too useful.
tuesday, august 21, 2001
Am I mistaken, or wasn't there a time in the distant past when you could get in your car and drive from point A to point B without encountering someone who was:
What a day.
A few weeks ago I got a call from a bass player I've worked with many times; he told me he was musical director for a singer/songwriter who was the son of a deceased legendary singer. (Can't be any more specific. You'd know who it is.) He said they had some rehearsals and gigs coming up, including some short tours. It sounded interesting, so we scheduled a meeting with the band members, the singer, and his manager to talk about the details. (Details = money.)
At the time, I thought it sounded a bit strange, because this singer doesn't have a record deal and certainly isn't well-known himself. But he definitely has money, so I thought maybe he could pull it off, at least on a small scale.
So today I show up for the meeting. There are some musicians I've met before but don't really know, my friend the bass player, the singer and his manager.
The manager (a rather large-bellied African American fellow) launches into a spiel about how this situation is “all about family,” how he plans to rehearse for 3 to 4 weeks, get a show that's incredibly tight, so tight people will be scared, then we'll play a show (somewhere) in LA, blow everyone away with our incredibly tight band, and then start doing tours. But no more than 4 to 6 weeks on the road at a time, because he knows how hard the road can be, he worked for Gladys Knight and the Pips and saw them night after night, just turnin' it out...
On and on.
(The “family” thing is a real red flag for me. If I had $20 for every time someone tried to scam me with that line, I'd own the internet.)
After about 10 minutes of this, one of the guys (not me, although I was waiting for the opening too) says, “I have a question. What about the money? What are you going to pay for this stuff?”
Hem. Haw. Some more yadda yadda about how they worked hard on a budget and this is what R__ can afford, and if it turns out they get paid more, it will go up.
The playing field is now covered with red flags.
And I'm now going to reveal the truth about what many musicians are paid, and why I'm constantly torn between my all-encompassing love of music, and my total disenchantment with the business of music.
For 3 to 4 weeks of rehearsals, they offered us $35.00 a day. In-town gigs would pay $100, out of town gigs $200. No mention of per diem. No mention of any other perks or benefits. As they say this, I'm looking at a watch on the singer's wrist that probably cost more than the entire budget for rehearsals.
When the numbers finally came out, there was a quick round of eye contact among us musicians. And then it got very uncomfortable in that room. It was clear that none of us would go for this. A figure of $75 a day was thrown out. They said they would discuss it. More hemming. More hawing.
So they ask us if they can go up to $75 a day, will we show up for rehearsals? Tomorrow?
I wasn't the first to say no. But I wasn't the last either. By that time I felt totally jacked around, and all I wanted to do was get out of there.
One of the sad facts of life for musicians these days is that people expect you to work for less than peanuts. Even sadder—many players will, because they love music and have devoted their lives to it. And there's always another young player waiting outside the door when you've had enough and say “fuck it.”
As the managers' bellies get fatter and fatter.
To end on a positive note: I did get out of there. And now I'm drinking one of Holland's finest beers, Oranjeboom. It's a great brew. If you haven't tried it, you must.
Greymatter's acting strange for us again; our gm-authors file got blown away somehow last night. So when I tried to post an entry this morning, I was greeted with “No such author!” when I logged on. Luckily, I had a backup. (The latest suspect for our Greymatter problems: our web host is running Zeus, not Apache...)
monday, august 20, 2001
Al Fasoldt with some simple (yet often neglected) advice about how to stop Windows virii: Sircam victims ignored a simple rule.
Why artists should be using Ogg Vorbis, an open source music compression technology intended to replace the proprietary MP3 format. Visit the Ogg Vorbis site to learn more. (For you Mac people, Unsanity Echo will play OGG files.)
The Turkish economic crisis is forcing rich Turks to scale back their lavish circumcision ceremonies.
In the 25 years since Istanbul's sprawling Circumcision Palace opened, business has never been so bad. The soccer-ball shaped go-carts children play with before their operations are empty, the orange and purple dance hall is dark and only a handful of customers are at the restaurant in the building where circumcisions are performed.
Salon has an interview with one of the authors of a new book on mosquitoes. What I learned: if your feet smell like cheese—Limburger to be precise—it drives them skeeters wild!
(But if your feet smell like Limburger, mosquito bites are the least of your worries.)
sunday, august 19, 2001
Wondering when you should use ALT tags for your images? The answer is simple: always.
Scientists are planning the deep sea equivalent of the Hubble Space Telescope; a hugely ambitious project to wire an entire tectonic plate off the coast of Northern California.
But what if the supply of gas suddenly ran out? I'll tell you. The dairy machinery, the slicers and wrappers, would come to a halt, because to cut the cheese, you must have gas. At the sawmill, not a single log could be run through the ripper, because to let one rip, you must have gas.
At SF Gate, columnist Mark Morford swims upstream with Ecstasy Saves The World.
Gotta love Google. Here is Professor D.N. Jha himself with an answer for the nutjobs: On Beef Eating in Ancient India.
Here's a rather disturbing article at AsianWeek about the escalation of internet warfare between China and the US: Get Ready for Cyberwars. It may not be very long before we discover exactly how well the internet's distributed server model holds up to a concerted terrorist attack.
Wow, it's not even 8 am and already we've had hate, violence, religious fanaticism, misogyny, intolerance, repression, and rampant consumerism. But here's the story of a crime so horrible it shocked even jaded old me: Overdue Library Book Returned - After 233 Years.
Religious fanatics in India are going ballistic over a historian's book that says their ancient ancestors may have eaten beef.
Intellectuals in Varanasi have branded Jha as a foreign agent trying to break the social fabric of the country, reports Sifynews. "We will not tolerate systematic and consistent efforts to insult the Holy Vedas, Gayatri Mantra, the Holy river Ganga and Gau Mata (Mother Cow)," Dr K K Mishra said.
“Intellectuals.” That's rich. You can't blame them for feeling that way, though. Intolerance, repression, and religious violence have done wonders for that part of the world.
saturday, august 18, 2001
I wonder what happened to the Rude Parrot?
Wonderful article at the New York Times about the meeting of Rabindranath Tagore and Albert Einstein.
CNET has a sequel to an earlier column about security issues with SQL queries.
New in our preferences: choose whether you want links to open in the same window or in a new window. No extra charge.
Some people have way too much time on their hands. The guys who make these things need to get girlfriends.
Interesting article at MIT Technology Review, about the many forces who want to impose regulations on the unruly internet: Taming the Web.
An important step toward creating the kind of online future we want is to abandon the persistent myth that information wants to be free.
Cringeley examines Microsoft's latest maneuvers in Making Lemonade: How Microsoft Is Using Its Own Legal Defeat to Hurt Java.
friday, august 17, 2001
You know there ain't no devil, it's just God when he's drunk.
- Muddy Waters
HyperCard was a magnificent experiment that in many ways presaged the internet. It was my first exposure to the concept of “hyperlinked” objects, and Dan Winkler's HyperTalk programming language was far ahead of its time. So it was interesting (and a bit sad) to find this transcript of an email exchange where Danny Goodman talks about HyperCard. (via scripting news.)
Photoshop Tennis going on right now: Jeffrey "the WaSP" Zeldman versus Brian "Rustboy" Taylor.
Not known for being a haven for counterculture freakazoids, The Economist has published the very detailed results of their Survey: Illegal Drugs.
Have you downloaded and installed KaZaA, the hot file-sharing application from Holland? Yes? Then you really ought to read this article at Salon, because along with KaZaA you also installed some sneaky spyware.
A “recruitment expert” in England has issued this world-shaking announcement: Some job hunters are stupid.
"Looking at this year's A-level results, you would think people were getting more intelligent. But it looks like some people are stupid. We have noticed an increase in silly answers over the last few months."
For those of you still on the fence, reluctant to even download Netscape 6.1 because 6.0 was so bad, here's a very positive review of the new release (6.1) that may convince you to give it another try.
Hey, Pravda's online with an English version! The formerly mighty voice of the Communist Party is now the home for quality journalism like this.
Here's a politician who really knows how to make things happen. After reading this, I'm thinking that Al Gore probably could have won the election if he stuck a few pins in a Dubya voodoo doll.
(I'm not posting this item so we can laugh at the backward natives, by the way; US politicians aren't very different from Samak Sundaravej.)
It was horrible. Pork. As far as the eye could see.
thursday, august 16, 2001
Extensible Stylesheet Language Transformations (or XSLT) at DevShed. Good tutorial. My brain hurts.
The latest technology has been used to produce an image of how Elvis Presley would look if he were alive today.
Apparently he would have strange mottled grey skin and be wearing a Navajo sweater. At least his sneer would still be intact.
We really do live in an age of miracles.
don't go to this site if you are offended by violent stick figure behavior.
OK, you Netscape 4 holdouts, you. This page should look better to you now, because I'm checking for N4 and adjusting the 'recent comments' menu accordingly.
But ... (in my best 'scolding father' tone) ... this is the last time, do you hear me? :)
How long do you have to go without washing your hair before horns grow out of your scalp?
I fixed a couple of small problems in the RSS builder script this morning; it now skips closed entries, and has better error checking. So version 1.1 is now available from our scripts menu. Use it only for good, never for evil.
wednesday, august 15, 2001
If you're still using Netscape 4.whatever, it's time to think about upgrading to a modern browser. Let's face it, folks. N4 is gettting pretty creaky. And there are alternatives, for almost everyone.
If you're still using N4 (and I know from looking at our stats that a significant number of you are) ... why? I'm not being sarcastic. I'm sure there are still good reasons to use this browser, and I'd like to hear them from our visitors. Some of them I know already; company policy, lack of alternatives, brand loyalty (why? they aren't loyal to you...), inertia, peer group pressure...
The new issue of Digital Web Magazine is chock full of good stuff about online communities, with articles by Daniel Cody of evolt, Matt Haughey of Metafilter, and Derek Powazek of Fray. All this and a beautiful splash page too.
Greg Lemond has apologized to Lance Armstrong for his remarks about Lance's relationship with Italian doctor Michele Ferrari.
spend some time manipulating the shrubya at a site with the odd name of Oddcast Host Workshop.
tuesday, august 14, 2001
At Xerox PARC: Experiments in the Future of Reading.
With the addition of the new recent comments feature, this page looks, er, interesting in Netscape 4.x now. The Undead Browser That Walks The Earth ignores widths applied to the <SELECT> tag with CSS, and insists on making the popup as wide as the widest <OPTION> element, pushing out the left sidebar column and making a big mess of things. Lovely. Anyone know a way around this that doesn't involve a browser sniffer?
A surprising number of people don't know that InfoWorld's Robert X. Cringeley is not real.
McDonald's has announced they will begin providing the specific sources of the flavorings they use in their fine culinary fare. The sources listed are said to be “dairy, meat, vegetable, or some unholy mad scientist hybrid of all of the above.”
US News columnist Randall E. Stross on the X10 ad campaign: Weaselly Web advertisers need lessons in how to behave.
According to friendly Dutch prankster Roel van der Meulen, “One of the more amusing things you can do to make your life exciting is letting people believe they have seen some kind of alien spacecraft.” Hard to argue with that! So he has thoughtfully shared with the world his detailed guide to Faking UFOs. (via /usr/bin/girl.)
DaveNet has a fascinating excerpt from David Banks's upcoming book, Breaking Windows.
Man, the Viennese really know how to shop.
monday, august 13, 2001
Whew. Here is one bizarre web site, with just enough rational sense to be disorienting: taxi1010 - Non-escalating Verbal
When someone insults you, tricking your emotional system into thinking they're more important than you are, you can quickly become hurt, angry, or confused. The way out is to intercept the insult with reason, before it can even hit your emotions.
Harsh words for Eric Clapton. But well deserved. Eric was one of my earliest inspirations. His playing on the Bluesbreakers and Cream albums was incredible. The fire and imagination in the live “Crossroads” solo still amazes me. Much of the music of that era sounds dated, but Clapton's technical mastery on these early recordings remains unequalled. His playing just swings.
He's been bland for a long time now, and that's sad. Maybe I should just be grateful for those moments when he burned, harder and with more soul than anyone ever has, before or since...
The story of the meteoric rise and fall of e*blinky.
At Wired: The Hunt for the Worm Writers.
No, not Chandra Levy; this is a Condit-free zone. We're talking about the incredible photographs taken by the Chandra X-ray Observatory.
“...and for the wine, may I suggest a lovely Italian Hitler?”
After first denying it, Microsoft is now admitting that Hotmail user data may have been compromised when some of their servers were infected with the more virulent form of Code Red.
Zimbabwe leader Bobby Mugabe is being haunted by an ngozi.
sunday, august 12, 2001
At Perl Month there's an interesting benchmark comparison of server-side scripting languages and operating systems.
At the New York Times: He's Not Hairy, He's My Brother. In a statement carefully crafted to evoke paroxysms of incoherent rage from creationists, UCLA professor Allan Wilson said, “If man is made in God's image, then God must be a chimpanzee,” just before flipping up his lab coat, dropping his Dockers, and mooning the audience of clergy and far-right wackos.
Last week, in our relentless quest for quality news items, we brought you the story of poor Amina Haruna, so terrorized by her new husband's massive schlong that she was seeking a divorce. Well, the court has made its ruling, and it looks like Amina's going to have to come up with a better excuse, or just grin and bear it.
New feature again! Links to the most recent comments can now be found in the pop-up menu in our left sidebar, titled (oddly enough) “recent comments.” I've been meaning to do something like this for a while, and this morning the solution congealed out of my mental miasma as I was waking up.
Yes, it's a new add-on script for Greymatter. But this one's a little trickier, because it does require a change to the gm-comments.cgi file.
Calling all Greymatter users: what features would you like to see in a replacement for GM's search function?
saturday, august 11, 2001
For two weeks, I've been having connection problems from my AT&T Broadband network in LA to our web host on the East Coast. I posted some messages about it to ask for comments, and discovered some of you were seeing the same thing. The page would start to load, then sit there with a busy cursor until eventually a connection failure warning appeared.
Well, tonight at about 7:10 pm the connection opened up, and it's working just beautifully now. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that someone in Connecticut (or Kentucky or Idaho) finally fixed a malfunctioning router in their network and we're back to our formerly excellent connection speed.
Tom the Dancing Bug: Bad Blastocyst. Was it bad? Or just misunderstood?
Always the rabbit of hunger, translated.
After writing earlier that Turkey was “one of the saner countries in the area,” I discovered (via macarthurweb) this article at the Washington Post: In Turkey, 'Honor Killing' Follows Families to Cities.
ISTANBUL -- By Sait Kina's way of thinking, his 13-year-old daughter brought nothing but dishonor to his family: She talked to boys on the street, she ran away from home, she was the subject of neighborhood gossip.
I try to reserve the word “awesome” for things that really deserve it, like Geoffrey Hiller's web site.
(For some reason this site showed up in our referrer list, even though there's no link to us there. I seem to recall hearing of an IE bug that incorrectly used the URL in another window as the referrer; anyone have details on this?)
Is your cookie jar infested with “web bugs?” These sneaky little critters let The Man keep track of your web surfing habits; in other words, it's internet wiretapping. Security Space has compiled two very interesting web bug reports that show which domains are doing the bugging.
Just another scheme perpetrated by The Man.
Online advertising seems to be going through a cognitive meltdown; it's as if the people who come up with campaigns like the X10 pop-unders are from another planet, a Bizarro world where potential customers don't mind (and some actually like) having their computers hijacked by virus-like software. At least Microsoft didn't try to hide Smart Tags.
Seems to be a PHP kinda morning. Here's an article at PHP Builder about the advantages of template-driven pages.
O'Reilly has an enlightening article on PHP encryption and authentication, with the sexy title PHP's Encryption Functionality. Did you know that PHP recognizes Apache's challenge-response input user name and password as the global variables $PHP_AUTH_USER and $PHP_AUTH_PW respectively?
We think we know all about partying in the USA. But in Turkey, the wedding party has evolved into something savagely weird. (And Turkey is actually one of the saner countries in the area.)
friday, august 10, 2001
German Christians have endorsed a list of acceptable words for bedroom antics.
Mr Herr (doesn't that make him 'Herr Herr'? -ed.) says the word 'nipples' in German, 'brustwarze' - which literally translates to 'breast warts' - was horrible. He said: "How many less erotic words can you think of for this most beautiful part of a woman's body? Instead you should use words like buds, heaven's berries or love's eyes."
Here's an interesting article on creating dynamic pages that can be indexed by search engines: Search Engine-Friendly URLs.
I also wrote a little script to count the downloads of the ZIP files in our scripts folder, and it does some pretty arcane stuff with HTTP headers. If anyone has tried to download a script and had a problem, please let me know.
This morning we're sporting a brand-new, spanking fresh (oh no, now we're gonna get search hits from spanking freaks), hot off the presses PHP search script for Greymatter. Because it's still an infant, it only does a simple case-insensitive string match. And it doesn't use a pre-compiled index; it brutally manhandles (I don't even want to think about the search hits we'll get from that) the Greymatter files and rummages through every entry like a second-story man high on premium Peruvian flake. (Are you listening, Google?)
But because it's a simple string match, it screams; it seems much faster than Greymatter's built-in search. We have close to 1000 entries now, and searching through all of them takes just a few seconds. If anyone's interested, it would be easy to add regular expression searching, although that would definitely create some friction.
Try it, won't you? And let me know if it seems pretty durn fast to you too?
thursday, august 09, 2001
Man, this blogging game is brutal. From #3 down to #13 in just a few short hours.
Welcome to our Blogdex visitors!
It looks like even shipping giant FedEx has system administrators with IQs lower than a blue soap dish.
Remember that search for “most pathetically dumb human ever known?” At this point we can safely assign that title to any IIS admins who haven't patched their frickin' servers yet! Argh!
The Naked News gets over 6 million unique visitors per month—almost as many as CNN.com—and they're coming soon to a cable channel near you. I checked this out some time ago, and it's quite odd; while I'm sure some people will call it pr0n (some people call Teletubbies pr0n), it's remarkably non-salacious and almost disorienting. The newscasters simply read the news and simultaneously disrobe. They don't pose, they don't touch themselves, they don't use any electrically powered stimulating devices, they just keep reading the news.
I'm sure they don't intend it, but you could almost see it as performance art with an interesting subtext about the blurring of the line between entertainment and “serious news.”
Yet another great online collection of vintage cheesy art: Lurid Paperback of the Week.
Early 20th century comic strip surrealism: Dreams of the Rarebit Fiend.
"Among other things last night I partook of a rarebit and it isn't doing a thing to me. Wheo! What a dream! Oh!"
The National Museum of American History has a wonderful exhibit online at HistoryWired, that lets you browse through some of the 3 million objects in their collection. The site's innovative DHTML interface is somewhat glitchy but still useable in IE5 Mac.
wednesday, august 08, 2001
Microsoft's Hotmail Is Red Hot From Worm. No comment necessary.
Michael Swaine thinks we've been coddling web users for too long, and it's time for some tough love.
Heh heh. We just got hit by a Google search for “most pathetically dumb human ever known.” If you find him/her, would you please let me know who it is? I keep thinking I've found him, only to discover someone even dumber...
Winesett, 76, had a brush with death last August when the floor of his outhouse collapsed. Supported only by an earthen wall, splintered floorboards and an abiding faith in God, Winesett survived 70 hours suspended above the muck of his backyard john.
“Yeehoo!” the Shrub yeehooed softly, “this presidentiality gig shore is relaxin'!”
Lucky the baboon is very aptly named.
Are the children of the boomers the most spoiled generation ever?
tuesday, august 07, 2001
One of those rules of thumb we love to repeat to ourselves, especially in the United States, is that sans serif typefaces are inherently less readable in extended text than typefaces that have serifs. Sans serifs, the logic goes, are mechanical and lifeless; they've sacrificed the subtle warmth of an old-style serif typeface to the cold, cruel logic of the machine age. Yet this assumption has been challenged over recent decades by a significant number of type designers, most of them in Europe, who seem intent on creating a sort of warm modernism.
According to Jim Allchin of Microsoft, everything's squeaky peachy fresh in Windows XP and they don't plan to change anything. Apparently, all the criticisms are based on misunderstandings, misconceptions, and misinformation.
And by the way, we haven't seen the last of Smart Tags. (via scripting news.)
Killer corn. The reaper works in mysterious ways.
Here's an amusing article at Salon about the strangely obsequious style of the Nigerian email scam.
It is with deep sense of purpose and utmost sincerity that I write this letter to you knowing full well how you will feel as regards to receiving a mail from somebody you have not met or seen before. There is no need to fear, I got your address from a business directory which lends credence to my humble belief. I also assure you of my honesty and trustworthiness.
How could you not want to give all your money to such a nice person?
Webmonkey has a very good article on Search Engine Optimization, recently updated with input from Google's engineers.
monday, august 06, 2001
Allow me to draw your attention to the top of our right sidebar, where a new section now dwells, succinctly titled “Scripts.” I've released two of the PHP scripts I'm using on this weblog: the rotating referrer list script, and the RSS builder script. You'll need PHP 4 for both of them, and the RSS builder works only with Greymatter.
Treat them as if they were your own children. And please let me know if you use them somewhere. Peace.
It's a very sneaky worm
(To the tune of “Super Freak” by Rick James.)
When I first set up the RSS feed for our weblog, I was using the technique outlined here at WebWord: Greymatter, RSS, and Syndication. This method uses Greymatter's “connected files” feature to generate the XML code automatically when an entry is posted. It's nice that it works automatically, but the trouble with it is that you can only list the last two entries. When you're a verbose son of a bitch like me, you can easily produce 5 or more entries per day, meaning that some entries may be missed by whoever's reading your feed.
So this morning I whipped up a tasty concoction—a PHP script that reads Greymatter's files directly to build an RSS file with the last 10 entries. Much more filling, yet still low in calories!
Code Red 1 was pretty dumb; it defaced web sites, which made its presence obvious. It didn't take very long for some enterprising vandal to come up with a new variant that spreads much faster and doesn't advertise its presence: New, more damaging server worm reported.
The new worm isn't as easy to track as Code Red, so there's no way to tell how many computers have been infected. According to analysis by security firm SecurityFocus, Code Red II looks for new targets more than 4,000 percent faster than Code Red.
sunday, august 05, 2001
The RSS feed is now debugged and firing on all cylinders, and we're registered at Userland, which maintains a list of RSS feeds. The little green tentacles reach further into the internet's innards...
This entry is only to test our new RSS generation system. If this works, we'll soon be syndicated!
saturday, august 04, 2001
Waferbaby's preferences page lets you modify his entire stylesheet to suit your tastes. If you ain't afeared of messin' with CSS, it's mighty fun.
Lots of people are saying that the Code Red virus is petering out. So if it's not a problem any more, how come the hosting provider for two of our accounts (CI Host) is blocking IPs to stem the flood of virus probes?
Which creates a big problem for me, since my IP is apparently one of those blocked. I haven't been able to connect to CI Host at all since Thursday and I need to update both sites ASAP. Ay caramba.
I'm glad this issue is finally settled: Jesus Had Short Hair!
When protests began to come from parts of the Christian world, the advocates of these newer hair styles replied that they saw nothing wrong with men wearing long hair since Jesus Himself had long hair. They referred to paintings of Christ which picture Him with long flowing hair. This sent the older generation and some Christian leaders hurrying to the Bible and history books to find if, for a fact, Jesus did have long hair. This booklet is dedicated to the task of revealing such a study.
The author courageously lets us know, in no uncertain terms, that God is very concerned about our apparel and hair styles.
You can't make up this kind of stuff.
In our referrer log: this Dutch weblog index, with a gallery of screenshots.
Robert X. Cringeley weighs in with a thought-provoking ramble about Microsoft and email virii: The Death of TCP/IP.
friday, august 03, 2001
Dan Gillmor thinks the government should block the release of Windows XP.
Here's an unusual exploration of the menagerie that lurks inside the Bembo typeface: Bembo's Zoo.
Things seem a bit sluggish around here to some of you lately. I can tell because we're getting more duplicate comment posts, probably because after clicking the button your browser just sits there for a while. Sometimes forever, or at least until you get a timeout error.
Rest assured that after you click that 'post' button, your comment does get posted correctly even if it takes so long you have to stop and reload the page.
Sorry about this; I'm still trying to find out if there's a cause for the slowdowns that I can do something about. So far, traceroutes haven't been very helpful.
According to the SANS Institute, Code Red has already infiltrated more servers in the first 3 days of August (343,345) than it did in the 7-day period in July (280,391) when it was first detected.
In fact, every site I've been able to check that uses background images in table cells has this problem, whether the background is applied with CSS or inside the TD tag.
I've only checked the Mac version; can someone please let me know if the PC/Unix versions have the same problem?
Mozilla 0.93 is out. Seems to be getting better with each release, but...
Has anyone seen my table cell backgrounds? I know I had them right here just a second ago...
(On my way to Bugzilla to see if there's a new interpretation of the background-image property that breaks all my pages...or if this is a real bug.)
thursday, august 02, 2001
I've been reading a lot of privacy policies lately. Call me a geek, or call me someone who, in this era of increasing belt-tightening and desperation for internet revenue, is a lot less likely to trust that each and every website owner really cares, deep down inside their souls, about my privacy. I must say, the MyPoints Privacy statement is one of the most complete I have seen so far.
Can anyone explain how this got in our referrer log?
If you don't see anything odd, take a closer look—those are backslashes. Click the link and it doesn't work. So what the?
Greg Lemond is “disappointed.” Lance Armstrong is surprised and upset by LeMond's comments.
I am sanguine and phlegmatic.
...I don't know how big this thing's gonna get!
We all need an occasional break from the chattering, criticizing, cynically hyperactive monkey that lives in our heads. (Come on, admit it. You have one too.) Contemplating the Tao can help. (via swallowing tacks.)
I don't think I've ever been this sleepy.
"It was a terrible experience. The mouse has spoiled my appetite," the man named as Muthu, told the newspaper.
(Everyone, all together...“Eeeewww!”)
wednesday, august 01, 2001
People are already planning for the next generation of the internet.
The Code Red worm is far from dead. The SANS Institute is tracking the number of incidents.
Webmonkey has an interesting article by Jay Greenspan on the controversy within the open source community about how to answer Microsoft's .NET system.
They want to tear down Wilt Chamberlain's old home! Surely, if anywhere deserves to be preserved as a national treasure it would have to be the place where one of the great basketball players of all time bedded over 20,000 women...
"A mirrored ceiling above the jumbo bed retracts to reveal open sky. A pillow-side command-and-control panel let Chamberlain dim the mood lights or fill the sunken Cleopatra-inspired bathtub that shimmers with 18-karat gold tile at the foot of the bed . . .
OK, I took a shower and I feel much better. So here's a movie of the NEAR probe's controlled descent to the surface of the Eros asteroid.
I just checked the network status page for one of our accounts and was surprised to see that the host had experienced two Distributed Denial of Service attacks recently.
Welcome to the new internet. Pop-under ads, smart tags, TOPtext, take-over ads, pr0n everywhere, virii everywhere, worms, DDoS attacks, Carnivore, .NET, Passport, crawlers, robots, spambots, spam, spam, spam de spam, spam, spam, spam, spam...
Stop me, somebody. I'm freaking myself out.
The FBI was wrong again. At this point, it looks like the apocalyptic warnings about Code Red were just hype. (Too bad; I was almost looking forward to a world-wide Internet shutdown.)
Sircam and Code Red are the first examples of a new breed of virus/worm/microbe, though, a breed that's much sneakier and much smarter than ever before. There are script kiddies out there with way too much free time. Hey kids! Don't you want to take up guitar and be a rock star instead?
Haiti gunmen stage coup attempt
BBC Dec 17 2001 4:52PM
Colombia rebels declare Christmas truce
BBC Dec 17 2001 4:52PM
U.S. Officials Say Al Qaeda Is Routed From Afghanistan
New York Times Dec 17 2001 4:12PM
Haiti gunman stage coup attempt
BBC Dec 17 2001 3:52PM
Shootings follow Mid-East peace plea
BBC Dec 17 2001 2:08PM
Uncertainty over bin Ladens location
CNN Dec 17 2001 11:26AM
Rumsfeld, Touring Area, Drops In on Afghanistan
Los Angeles Times Dec 17 2001 7:16PM
Shuttle Endeavour Completes Mission
Discovery Channel Dec 17 2001 6:39PM
Shuttle returns with space station crew
USA Today Dec 17 2001 6:01PM
Smoking gun gets another one
Sunspot Dec 17 2001 5:49PM
Officials debate release of bin Laden tape
Seattle Times Dec 17 2001 5:47PM
Many Visions for WTC Site
New York Daily News Dec 17 2001 5:42PM
headlines from moreover
arts & letters daily
I'd like to know who's Plunkin' the monkeys? -- It was on the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson. I can't remember the year maybe 10 years ago? They were talking about AIDS and how AIDS all got started, he had 3 theory's. First Frank said something about AIDS being a government test gone wrong Then maybe it was an Alien (ET) test or mistake and finally they talked about the theory of AIDS coming from a monkey and then Frank said " I'd like to know who's plunkin' the monkey's?"
a fire inside
a list apart
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