Have you ever seen a headstone with these words...
"If only I had spent more time at... work".
The lyric is from (of all people) Billy Ray Cyrus. (The song, "Busy Man", was the hit off his most recent album, and it's actually very good.)
The situation, on the other hand, happened to this lawyer.
David Sylvester had a
conversation that would divert his career and rattle his firm. He was talking to his
10-year-old daughter at the kitchen table. "We were chatting about some problem she
was having at school," Sylvester recalls. "She said, 'My teacher understands because
he knows me better than you do.'"
Thursday, March 9, 2000 @ 01:01 p.m. - Comment
Oh, for the love of ghod...
Janet Reno is at it again.
It seems that she thinks that the Privacy Protection Act of 1980, which places much greater strictures on government seizures of computers used to publish information, is getting in her way.
"Because computers now commonly contain enormous data storage devices, wrongdoers can
use them to store material for publication that the PPA protects while simultaneously storing
child pornography, stolen classified documents, or other contraband or evidence of crime,"
the report warns.
We may joke about rogue professors, but we're only covering up the chill we feel in
contemplating the way Internet superstition and Reno's relentless child-protective hype might
give the Feds the excuse they've been waiting for to do an end-run around the PPA.
It appears that this is exactly what Reno has in mind. "Features of the Internet that make it
different from prior technologies may justify the need for changes in laws and procedures that
govern the detection and investigation of computer crimes," the committee notes ominously.
Do I have to say that this is getting out of hand? Read the story, read the report, call your US Senators and Representatives, and make it clear to them that you don't think that continuing the trend of taking away Americans' constitutional protections and liberties is justified by the "protection" it provides.
Assuming, of course, that you really think that, and not that I'm a clueless moron. :-)
[ Thanks to
Thursday, March 9, 2000 @ 10:43 a.m. - Comment
Rings of silver, rings of gold
Rings of 'bloggers, stories told.
Jish, whomever he is (:-), started a webring of weblogs, the 'control panel' for which you'll see above. I tweaked the standard format a touch; I like it better, and I don't think it will confuse anyone any more than their original did. He didn't complain, so I guess he's not worried about it either.
I don't think I have many readers who don't realize that I'm not the only one doing this... but if you didn't, surf around the ring a bit (now, there's a mixed metaphor) and check out some of the other editors.
Thursday, March 9, 2000 @ 10:14 a.m. - Comment
at least 37 of you masturbate, according to my logs, that's apparently not enough for the American Medical Association.
Even though they decided that it was ok to do it years ago, apparently it's not ok to talk about it.
Or, at least, not if you use their logo when you do it. Morons.
Wednesday, March 8, 2000 @ 11:18 p.m. - Comment
I'm so glad, I'm so glad
I'm glad, I'm glad, I'm glad.
Because Jon not only didn't knock my block when I told him his redesign sucked, he fixed it.
How cool is that?
PS, Jon: thanks for all the hits...
Wednesday, March 8, 2000 @ 10:50 p.m. - Comment
[ Sure, I'm a hit slut. But really. This is funny stuff. ]
The Winerlog guys have created The Winerlog Drinking Game:
Any links to sites with a URL of *.editthispage.com count for one drink each
Any and all instances of an italicized word or statement followed by an exclamation point (i.e., "Have a
great weekend!" "Digging in!" "Great!") counts for one drink per instance. Neat!
Name dropping anyone involved with computers pre-1990 counts for one drink per mention. Example: "I
went to lunch with Tim O'Reilly, and Tim said... and I said, and then Tim responded with... Here's a picture
of Tim!" would count for 4 drinks
If Dave links to a oversized, blurry image of his own taking, drink once per image
I love these guys!
Wednesday, March 8, 2000 @ 10:40 p.m. - Comment
The guy we love to hate
One of the earliest webloggers is Dave Winer, who writes Scripting News. I used to read Dave's log, until he got even more self-involved than me. :-)
The essence of good caricature is isolating the larger-than-life elements of something, and exaggerating them... and that's just what the creator of WinerLog has done -- using Dave's own Manila engine.
I forget who pointed this one out to me, thanks to 'em; it's much more fun than the original.
I love it!
Tuesday, March 7, 2000 @ 01:18 p.m. - Comment
The Hot Zone
I picked up a used copy of The Hot Zone, a non-fiction account of an outbreak of Ebola -- an African hemmorhagic fever virus -- right here in the US.
Sort of like Tom Clancy's Executive Orders, only in real life... not bedtime reading. So, from, of all places, The Drudge Report, this pointer to a BBC story on a possible cure for such viruses. You don't need this one often, of course, but if you need it, you need it bad.
Sunday, March 5, 2000 @ 06:56 p.m. - Comment
What time is it?
Lilly Tao, Girlhacker extraordinare, has written a very interesting piece about the social implications of network time synchronization.
(You know, it seems like, almost every time I write the words "interesting piece on the social implications of", I'm linking to Lilly... :-)
Now, the technical aspects of time synchronizaion are pretty interesting in and of themselves (if you agree with that sentiment, guess what? you're a geek! :-), but she correctly observes that synchronized time -- or more properly, social understanding that everyone has synchronized time -- will take one more bit of slop, and therefore social lubrication, out of our lives. This might be nice when you get to the bank to cash your check ot 5:59pm on Friday... but you wont enjoy it when you oversleep on Monday morning.
A similar thing likely affects the coverage patterns of cellular phone companies: it is useful, sometimes, socially and in business, to be able to blame unreachability on the technology, rather than our desires. When this possibility is removed, I think things will be less pleasant.
Call me a Luddite if you wish...
Saturday, March 4, 2000 @ 02:23 p.m. - Comment
maybe Jeff Bezos (of Amazon) isn't really an asshole, after all...
Tim O'Reilly certainly doesn't think so
My perception of the question here, though, is not "should Amazon have patented 1-click ordering", but "should Amazon have been allowed to patent 1-click ordering", or, indeed, any business (or programming) practice.
For more discussion and background on why that should even be a question, check out The League for Programming Freedom, hosted by MIT; scroll past all the links to the discussion section at the bottom.
This is yet another example of Big Business trying to take over the world. In many old science fiction novels, one of the premises was that nation-states didn't matter any more, and the people fighting the wars were corporate states. The most notable example was Heinlein's Friday: "Who's the enemy? IBM? How do you bomb IBM? You might as well try to slice a fog."
That is becoming less and less fictional, folks...
Saturday, March 4, 2000 @ 01:09 p.m. - Comment
This is too good.
From the epinions.com page for The Holy Bible:
A note on the classification of this book:
For some time, this book was incorrectly classified in the fiction section. We would
like to apologize for this blatant misclassification. We would also like to emphasize
that this categorization was not done by Epinions.com, but by Muze, the company
that supplies our book data. We apologize to anyone who has been offended by this
error and want to assure you that we will continue to do whatever we can to correct it.
Andy Diamondstein, Books Category Manager
Wednesday, March 1, 2000 @ 11:07 p.m. - Comment
Jeff Bezos: another opinion
Alert reader Tom Harris, who I gather is from Seattle, sent me a pointer to this piece from The Stranger, which looks like a much cooler local alternative paper (in Seattle) than Tampa's Creative Loafing (um, er, I mean "Weekly Planet"...)
The piece is an 'Exit Interview' with an ex-Amazon employee whom we'll call 'Jane' (probably because that is her name; alterative press reporters usually think that sort of thing is clever :-), and her opinions of her ex-boss. As Tom notes, the interview "doesn't paint a very nice picture, either".
Nope, it doesn't.
Of course, she did just get shit-canned. :-)
Wednesday, March 1, 2000 @ 10:55 p.m. - Comment
Ok, I ranted and raved
the other day about RealPlayer G2 and how badly I thought it's user interface design sucked, and how much stuff it did that I didn't want and couldn't turn off...
So it's incumbent on me, as a neo-journalist, to say that I've installed RP7 to replace G2, and it sucks a lot less. Yeah, its design is still intended more to make the program providers happy than to make me happy... but the configuration has become so much more user-friendly that I guess I can tolerate it. They do still have to work out their 8-bit video issues, though...
Tuesday, February 29, 2000 @ 02:12 p.m. - Comment
Tim O'Reilly and the Amazon Patent
You may or may not know that Amazon has just been granted a patent on clicking a button to buy a book, and even more recently on the idea that an affiliate listed in the link you used to get there to buy the book might get a cut.
You may not even know why this sucks.
Tim O'Reilly, though, does, and he shows a fine amount of backbone, politely biting (one of) the hand(s) that feeds him:
Jeff replied via email on January 27. While I don't have permission to
quote his message, I can give you the substance of it, namely that
he shares my concern for both customers and innovation, but that
while he believes the patent process can sometimes be abused, he
believes that this is not the case with Amazon's 1-Click patent.
Given this response, I've decided that I need to speak out on this
issue. While the Amazon 1-Click patent is far from the most obvious
abuse of the patent system, it is one that affects the competitive
landscape of my own business, and one where, as a publishing
industry spokesperson, I most feel obliged to make a statement.
Short version: Jeff Bezos (founder of Amazon) is an arrogant, self-important, insufferable asshole; Tim O'Reilly (founder of O'Reilly Associates, publishers of almost every decent Unix book on the planet) is a pretty decent guy.
If you don't want the mega-corporations to end up in charge of everything, check out the Ask Tim, and get involved. Let your congresscritter know that you think the US Patent and Trademark Office is out of hand, and needs to be fixed before it breaks the Internet.
Tuesday, February 29, 2000 @ 12:54 p.m. - Comment
I will not subject my readers to bad MIDI files...
I will not subject my readers to bad MIDI files...
In any event, /usr/bin/girl supplies us with this preview of Windows 2001, only part of which you've probably already seen.
Me, I was looking for the "Erect giant black monolith in lunchroom" menu option, but what the hell...
I just wonder what the MIT hackers are gonna do next year...
Tuesday, February 29, 2000 @ 12:08 a.m. - Comment
Saving old data
Girlhacker muses tonight (and if she doesn't start NAMEtagging everything, I'm gonna kill her) on 'data archeology': trying to avoid losing data as it's carrier format becomes obsolete.
One commonly noted example is the NASA attempt to maintain a 7-track tape reading capability.
And, also from NASA, this paper, which supplies the descriptive name I was looking for ("data survivability"), appears to be the authoritative treatment:
This technology assessment of long-term, high-capacity data storage systems identifies an
emerging crisis of severe proportions related to preserving important historical data in science,
health care, manufacturing, finance, and other fields. For the last 50 years, the information
revolution, which has engulfed all major institutions of modern society, has centered itself on
data - their collection, storage, retrieval, transmission, analysis, and presentation (P. Drucker,
Forbes Magazine, 8/24/98). The transformation of long-term historical data records into
information concepts, according to Drucker, is the next stage in this revolution towards building
the new information-based scientific and business foundations
Central to the transformation of data into knowledge-based information is the understanding of
how to preserve a long term archive of digital data that resides in mass storage systems. As
these storage systems evolve through new software and hardware technologies of tomorrow,
we need to ensure data survivability and reliability, as well as the evolvability of these systems,
all of which pose technological challenges as formidable as the Y2K problem. However, unlike
the Y2K problem, where a crisis is set to go off at a specific time, large capacity data storage
repositories face a problem similar to the social security system in that the seriousness of the
problem emerges after a decade or two. Briefly, the essence of the storage crisis can be stated
as follows: since it could take a decade to migrate a peta-byte of data to a new media for
preservation, while the life expectancy of the storage media itself is only a decade, it may not
be possible to complete the transfer before a non-recoverable data loss occurs.
There's also a company, somewhere in Pennsylvania, I think, that has promised to be the last place on planet Earth you can dub a 2-inch quad videotape, for which, while we're at it, Ampex (the progenitors of that format) have reportedly pledged to continue making tape available as long as anyone needs it. If anyone can confirm or deny that rumor, I'd love to hear about it -- I'd really like to hear it confirmed, obviously.
The short answer is: media librarian may well turn out to be the most important job in the house.
Monday, February 28, 2000 @ 11:28 p.m. - Comment
Oh, boy, is this gonna be fun...
The most newsworthy item about the Oscar nominations is that "Blame
Canada", from the brilliantly subversive movie "South Park: Bigger,
Longer and Uncut", got nominated for Best Original Song. Everybody
and his brother seems to be gleefully pointing out that this means
someone will have to sing it onstage during the ceremony. The original
lead singer, Mary Kay Bergman, died last November and is presumably
unavailable. Canadians Celine Dion and "that bitch Anne Murray" have
both retired for now, and we somehow doubt we'll see Joni Mitchell up
there. Who's left? The Barenaked Ladies? We also wonder whether the
Academy will censor the song. The South Park lyrics site has the words
to Blame Canada and all the movie's other light-hearted hits. We don't
need to warn you, do we?
I'm hoping we don't.
Monday, February 28, 2000 @ 12:58 p.m. - Comment
So, what's bill really worth...?
More than you want to think about.
Of course, this guy's numbers do not agree with
those of Phil Greenspun, who apparently thinks that Bill owns more shares. They do both agree that MSFT is down to 88 bucks or so a share, which may prove that ESR is right in his assertion that it's time to stick the fork in Microsoft... but then, I've been predicting that demise for about a year now, myself.
Monday, February 28, 2000 @ 12:17 p.m. - Comment
Love your country
but never trust it's government. The quote appears to be original to Bob Heinlein, but the sentiment may not be; in any event, it's an excellent maxim. Why?
Because we don't elect these people based on competence and intelligence...
Arizona is about to hold the first binding election on the Internet. Internet voting has been being discussed and battered about by academics with a clue for years now, but did the governors pay attention?
Echo answers mournfully.
(Hint: we haven't quite figured out yet how to make votes non-duplicatable, non-repudiable, and non-identifiable, all at the same time.)
Monday, February 28, 2000 @ 10:07 a.m. - Comment
We sure have a funny idea of 'lewd', these days...
The N'Awlins Po-lice are going to be hard asses about women baring their breasts at Mardi Gras this year:
As the police poster states: "Uniform and plain clothes officers will be vigilant in the French Quarter and WILL TAKE the appropriate action if the law is violated ... just ask the 360 people who were arrested last year for lewd conduct."
So, now, will it be illegal for men to wear no shirts? Has anyone told the NOPD that there's a Federal Constitutional issue of Equal Protection here? I hope not; I'd purely love to see a test case.
Sunday, February 27, 2000 @ 11:02 p.m. - Comment
Bad Fish Days
Spotted in Beth's diary:
"Is there any place where you can get naked sushi?"
"Yeah. Doesn't that sound kind of cool? Eating sushi off of a
"Um ... well ... not for the woman, I don't suppose, unless she
could get to a shower pretty quickly. She'd get pretty smelly."
"Well, yeah, I was thinking you'd be able to shower."
"Oh, you meant me? I thought you meant like a strip club or
something. Live Nude Girls! Now with wasabi! But if you just
mean me, I suppose we could get sushi to go."
Sunday, February 27, 2000 @ 09:08 p.m. - Comment
404: Not Found
No, silly, not this story; the topic.
If you've ever been surfing around and found a site that designed a slightly less boring 404 page than the stock reply of Apache (or whatever other lesser server someone is running... :-), then you're probably gonna like Area 404. [ Stolen from a couple people. ]
Sunday, February 27, 2000 @ 12:36 p.m. - Comment
My Ghod! Senator Grant gets a clue!
Florida State Senator John Grant is famous for many things, most of them not particularly complimentary.
The most noticeable was when he tried to yank funding for community non-profit radio station WMNF because he didn't like the lyrics of an Iris DeMent song the station
played -- and of course, he had to be cornered to admit that that was why he'd done it in the first place -- his inital response was a lie.
Oh, I'm sorry; he "misunderstood" what was going on.
In any event, while I'm not one to look a gift horse in the mouth, one does have to wonder when someone with this sort of history suddenly decides to be a nice guy...
Today's Mary Jo Melone column in the St Pete Times chronicles his 'turnaround'.
Two of my favorite lawmakers, for
whom God is not just their co-pilot but
their spin doctor, have opened their eyes. To speak
as they might, they've seen the light.
They've decided it's time to stop punishing women
for making desperate decisions about their children.
State Sen. John Grant and state Rep. Sandy
Murman, both Tampa Republicans, were so moved
by Thursday's discovery of an abandoned newborn
boy at a suburban apartment complex that they
are proposing a law that would give mothers a
A woman who gave birth but didn't want her baby
could drop it off at a hospital, without leaving her
name, and without risk of prosecution for neglect.
Praise the Lord and pass the baby powder, will
More power to them, but I cannot help but ask myself... "why?"
Sunday, February 27, 2000 @ 10:54 a.m. - Comment
Too clever by half; and I don't even have the energy to chase them tonight...
Saturday, February 26, 2000 @ 05:04 p.m. - Comment