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February 26, 2005

Here's yet another example of why peer review of scientific results is essential. History of modern man unravels as German scholar is exposed as fraud.

Six basses is too many, so I'm selling one.

Three iPods is too many, so I'm selling one.

Tony Levin's bass barn caught on fire a few years ago. Ouch.

In the battle of squirrels vs. technology, the squirrels lose. Behold the SquirrelStop videos. (This is much nicer than the Rodenator which actually kills the critter.)

FlashBlock is really slick. It's better than the "*.swf" rule I had configured in AdBlock.

February 24, 2005

More fun with GarageBand, on the Jamie Music page: Hard Driving in Moonlight. I hope you find it well suited to the title.

February 20, 2005

I found another person who treats a mobile phone company as if its value were $0. This guy's a VC; the last one I mentioned was Sun President Jonathan Schwartz. Both are experienced, wealthy, well-educated financial professionals (probably both have at least an MBA) and so they probably are following the standard way of looking at telecommunications companies. But it just doesn't work. Robin says "So all this manic M&A activity is valuing these subscribers at an order of magnitude higher than the discounted value of the cashflow they will generate." Well, yes, but only if they count things the same way you do: company is worth $0, subscribers are worth (company valuation ÷ number of subscribers). He then goes off into the weeds with strange acronymic ideas of basically how incremental improvements in product offerings can squeeze a few more bucks out of customers. I maintain that a wireless phone company is worth more than its customers' revenues, because those tens of thousands of people, buildings, contracts, partner relationships, etc. would take years and billions of dollars to redevelop. The right back-of-napkin estimate, as far as I can tell, is "how much would it cost to get a phone company up and running to handle 1 million customers?" Then multiply that times the number of customers (in millions, of course) and add that to the subscriber value. I don't agree with Schwartz and Bordoli that you can just assume that a $0 company can handle 22 million wireless subscribers (talk about a low barrier to entry!); I think this is the source of their collective "WTF?" sentiment when looking at the merger valuations lately. The companies really are worth more than just the subscribers. Whether they're worth as much as they were bought for is a totally different question, of course. :)

Jamie Zawinski talks about why groupware is a term that damns a software project to become a confused mess of featuritis. He also noticed Big Heads which is quite odd. Not really disturbing, just odd, on multiple levels. Where multiple is defined as being a number between one and three.

Are your kids getting laid more than you are? Extract your vengeance with the help of Microsoft's leetspeak article. Now you'll know when your horny teens are preparing to hook up with their 42 year old internet stalker. (P.S.: hints that your teen may be a crystal meth addict: talking back, not wanting to do homework, having different friends in 10th grade than the ones they had in 2nd grade.)

I have never seen a dorkier PC case than the Asus Vento 3600.

Yay, the Department of Homeland Security got a rating of F in computer security in a recent governmental review. But at least there haven't been any more of those awful nail clipper hijackings. Those were scary.

While doing some errands downtown I passed by a hotel that was just swarming with bearded, portly gay men. Bears, they call themselves. I've never seen so many in one place, until I got off at the Castro Muni subway stop and saw the Castro teeming with furry roly-poly men. Some store window signs made it all click: the International Bear Rendezvous is going on this weekend.

February 17, 2005

If I hadn't paid $70 for my Palm m500, it might make sense to buy a $199 laser virtual keyboard for it. But I did, so it doesn't. I'll just wait. Someday maybe I'll have an teeny weeny device that has this technology integrated into it.

So, not surprisingly, someone has figured out a Napster hack (which is really a Windows Media DRM hack) that doesn't take 10 hours of real time to convert 10 hours of music from DRM hobbled form into MP3 form. OK, so the guy says it's only limited by your available CPU horsepower. Can I combine that with Sun's $1/CPU hour Sun Grid offering? Can I rip Napster's entire music collection to MP3 in a couple of minutes, and then stick it on Kazaa, if I just have deep pockets? Yeah, tell me again how Napster isn't cracked and how DRM makes sense.

February 15, 2005

I spent a little time playing around with GarageBand today, partly because someone I know beat me to it even though I've had the hardware and software lying around for over a year and she just got it, and partly because I haven't recorded anything for almost three years, and it wasn't even my material (well, 80% of it wasn't) then. And partly because I have a bunch of recent additions to my menagerie that haven't been heard yet (except for the Modulus bass which made its debut at my bass jury during finals week last semester). So now there's a new clip on my music clips page to remind me that I really need to compose and record some of my own music already.

Apparently Snoop Dogg has a new show on MTV. Here's a clip from it (QuickTime stream), featuring Snoop working at Arby's and messing with customers (not an original idea, but well done).

If you want to obsess over the quality of various seats on an airplane (which is worthwhile if you fly a lot, or over long distances, or both) then SeatGuru is your friend.

Kim and I recently watched Once Upon a Time in the West and it was outstanding. No wonder IMDB users have rated it the 28th best movie of all time. Jersey Girl was better than I expected - not great, but not painfully clichéd like most romantic comedies.

Strong Bad still rules.

I like the idea of fighting little bugs with other little bugs, to prevent disease in third world countries.

I know this isn't the real Star Wars Episode III but I bet the real one will be just about as stupid. Except the real one won't be trying to be stupid, and will cost about a million times more.

The new Battlestar Galactica series is excellent and if you like science fiction you should watch it. It's about a jillion times better than the usual stuff on the Sci-Fi channel. The scantily clad babe is actually an important character and doesn't need a gratuitous space-goo wipedown like the abominable Enterprise to pump up ratings.

If you like trucker hats, BustedTees are for you. They're damn funny even if they are T-shirts catering to the indie hipster crowd.

The virus arms race escalates again: viruses are now hiding in RAR-compressed self extracting executables and are getting past filters. This is really pitiful. First, it means that people are still allowing .exe files through their firewalls, and their users are still downloading and opening them. Second, it means that antivirus software is woefully out of date. I set up an open-source virus filtering program called AMaViS back in March of 2003 when I was still using Windows for work and didn't want to get nailed (plus I was just tired of seeing the damn things). It had RAR (and self-extracting .exe RAR) format handling then. Out of curiosity, I looked at the change log and it's had this functionality for almost six years. Six and a half years ago, when they added this feature to AMaViS, I was running Red Hat Linux 5.2 on a Dell Pentium with a 15" monitor and living in Arlington, and Bill Clinton was President, and I had an ISDN internet connection, and I worked at WestLake Solutions. People were really worried about the Y2K problem, while they weren't busy rolling out Windows 98. That was a hell of a long time ago. Why are people still paying for shitty antivirus software that doesn't protect them? Is it really helpful that they were able to call up the vendor and yell at them? I mean, it does provide one level of cover-your-ass functionality if you can point at the vendor and say that their software sucks, but when there's something free that doesn't have that problem, whose fault is it that you don't use it?

Another question: Why is American Airlines gathering written dossiers on fliers' friends? I mean, I'm not really inclined to fly on airlines that are involved in labor disputes or bankruptcy (something about those situations makes me less confident in their mechanics and pilots, since they may be rushed or sleep deprived or pissed off or maybe they're just the only ones who couldn't find a job elsewhere)... but if I were asked to do something like this I think I'd refuse. This KGB shit is totally out of hand, especially if it's implemented as a pseudo-voluntary measure where the government and private entities get to point the finger at the other and say it wasn't their idea and they can't do anything about it so won't you please just comply with this draconian not-really-a-law not-really-a-regulation "security measure". Let's see... I'm going to visit your mom, followed by your mom again, and your grandma, then your daughter, and your sister, and then all of themat the same time. We haven't picked out a cheap motel just yet, so I'll just leave that marked as "TBD". Okay? Civil disobedience... with your mom.

Meanwhile, some actual law enforcement officers were cut off, out of contact and unable to work because their HQ folks didn't come into work... due to of an inch of snowfall: 'Inch of snow' shuts down air marshals.

Here's another example of snow revealing a way to defeat a security system.

February 8, 2005

Silicone based iPod cases don't work really well because they're too grabby and stick to the cloth in pockets. It's really dumb. I recently replaced one with a Contour iSee for iPod 20GB (available at the Apple Store) and I like it a lot. It's a hard-shell clear case that isn't particularly bulky. Unlike silicone cases, it goes into your pocket successfully.

Funny stuff: Screen Clean (cute; uses Flash), Patches the Horse (Windows Media video), Sponge Bob accused of promoting a "pro-homosexual" agenda, but the United Church of Christ welcomes him anyway. Finally, a negative review of the Mac Mini. Discover how much fun it can be to be told that you are a f---ing c--t (Flash) in song. Rate My Kitten. Cruel cut for Welsh rugby fan.