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June 28, 2004

At Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference today, Steve Jobs talked about the next version of Mac OS X, called Tiger. OK, so some of the features are interesting, and others are not so interesting, but one that I found particularly noteworthy is Dashboard. I don't really think the widget idea itself is that interesting, but the fact that they're written in JavaScript is really cool. In fact this is what I thought of the "JavaScript desktop applets" idea the first time I saw it, in Konfabulator. Here's a link to the Apple WWDC banners that it's making fun of. Pretty funny. Imitating a banner mocking imitation. Apple deserves it, though.

June 27, 2004

The latest of many, many Internet Explorer security panics is here. This time, though, Microsoft can't say that it's the user's fault (for failing to religiously check for updates and wait patiently for Windows Update to install them, if it doesn't get confused and fail to install anything), because they haven't actually released fixes for the vulnerabilities that are being used this time. Hooray! So now the bare minimum set of responsibilities of every Windows user is to buy the software, update it constantly with security patches from the vendor, pay for software upgrades when Microsoft repeatedly threatens to abandon support for the version you have, install a firewall and antivirus software (and keep those up to date), and now reconfigure your web browser so that the security level is so high that certain web sites won't work anymore. Fortunately, faster, more secure, technically superior alternatives do exist, and are free and easy to use: Firefox and Mozilla.

With either of those browsers you can turn off all of the cursed ads using Adblock and BannerBlind. Disable Flash entirely by adding this to your userContent.css file:

embed[type="application/x-shockwave-flash"] {
  display: none !important;
  visibility: hidden !important;

Voila, no more stinkin' CPU-killing animated ads.

Of course, you might want to keep Flash around for a little while longer so you can see the Viking Kittens performing the Immigrant Song by Led Zeppelin.

If you're still starving for musical entertainment then check out Soma FM's awesome Secret Agent MP3 stream (128K MP3 stream playlist). It's great for drowning out the real world and getting some work done.

I recently switched from Red Hat Linux to the more correctly named Debian GNU/Linux, and it's been a lot of work. Actually I'm not even finished yet, but that's mainly because of the whole school + work thing taking up all of the time I could be spending putzing around with Linux. Fortunately I didn't choose Gentoo Linux, because apparently Gentoo is Rice.

A couple of guys (one an AOL employee) have allegedly conspired to send spam to AOL users. Imagine, an AOL user getting spam.

More than a couple of teachers have allegedly conspired to help students cheat on California state exams.

After years of being told that the media was liberal, I've finally been able to verify this claim. Because Dubya Said So! is definitely a liberal diatribe. However, I don't see in this case how it's a bad thing.

Our State Farm insurance agent (a nice lady who we were totally happy with) was named Priscilla Ng. She was murdered in her own home a week ago. More details: No sign of forced entry in home killing, Murdered woman feared for her safety, Couple in fierce custody battle, Cops: Home invasion wasn't random, Police: Lexus Taken During Hillsborough Invasion. Wow. I really don't care much about the Peterson trial (aside from the obvious "I hope the guilty are punished and the innocent are protected" sentiment that any decent citizen feels) but I really am interested in this one because it's someone I knew. I also can't help but think I know who did it but I'm no detective... what I know about policework comes mostly from watching TV and movies, I admit it. But if you read the articles it isn't hard to figure out where this story is likely to end up.

On the other hand, there's a much more worthwhile story that's in the news days. We saw Fahrenheit 9/11 on Friday night thanks to the organizational impetus of Maggie and the legwork of Kim. It's excellent, and I was pleasantly surprised to find out that Michael Isikoff's Newsweek article criticizing the film actually contained several innacuracies. I read the article before seeing the movie, and was looking specifically for the things that he had said were wrong in the movie, so when they were not actually in the movie it was hard to miss. WTF? Did he think we were all going to miss the fact that he said things in writing that weren't true of a movie that apparently a metric shitload of people are going to see? I heard that the movie had actually been changed a bit "for clarity" since Cannes so I was willing to accept that maybe Isikoff was talking about that version rather than the one I saw. Apparently not according to Mr. Moore's web site. We'll see where this goes.

June 20, 2004

I'm not normally a fan of casemods, but this project is without a doubt the coolest one I've ever seen.

This comparison of two Nickeback songs shows just how creative they are. (Thanks to Kim for finding this.)

Will Durst has graciously provided a FAQ for Reagan's Funeral in case you need it.

If you don't like Bill O'Reilly, you may wish to read the rantings at Sweet Jesus, I Hate Bill O'Reilly. It's funny and sad and frustrating all at once.

Chris Pirillo has published an article on Why You Should Dump Internet Explorer. Nothing he says is new, but it's good to hear it coming from him. If you're gonna use Windows and defend your choice based on the variety of great software that's available for it, you're pretty much obligated to use the best apps available, especially if the choice is between two free apps that are both really easy to install and use, and even if the best one isn't the one that Microsoft wants you to use.

This interview with Mike Davidson of ESPN about their switch from browser-specific HTML to standards-compliant HTML and CSS is enlightening, even if it's not new (it's over a year old). But check out what happens to your browser's location field when you go to For me it goes to Why? Are users supposed to care that this is part of MSN or Go? Nothing on the page explains this. Hmm, MSN is part of Microsoft, and Go is apparently part of Buena Vista. A bit of digging reveals this page which suggests that Buena Vista is a Disney brand, and ESPN is too. So Disney owns Buena Vista which owns Go which owns What the hell is all this? Why can't it just be And even more strange is the MSN bit. I'm not an MSN subscriber, I don't use MSIE, or MSN messenger, or MSN Explorer. Why is ESPN part of MSN? And should I be reassured somehow that this site is tainted by these axes of evil (Disney and Microsoft)? Do their servers get their power from Enron and their connectivity from Worldcom too? It's a mystery.

June 13, 2004

Fear my awesome PageRank! Search Google Images for "guitar" or "transvestites" and on the first page are pictures I took (currently hit #5 for "transvestites" and hit #20 for "guitar"). OK, so maybe this is a dubious honor, but at least I'm able to figure out why my web stats are so incredibly skewed toward those pages. Hooray for Referer [sic] logging, so I can figure out what search terms people used to get to my pages.

Ever wonder about the history of hard disks? No? Neither did I, but I stumbled across HARD DISK DRIVE GUIDE: A Brief History of the Hard Disk Drive anyway. It's sorta interesting,and pretty accessible and brief as well.

Remember when keyboards were built to last? I really liked the Apple Extended Keyboard II and the similar IBM keyboards that had the mechanical keys and very clicky action; the definite tactile feedback really helps typing accuracy, at least for me. Well now there's the Tactile Pro Keyboard. Cool. Too bad I'm not in the market for a keyboard anymore. I bought an Apple Wireless Keyboard a couple of weeks ago for work, since I now have to go into the office instead of telecommuting, and I bring my laptop with me. It's pretty cool, though the Bluetooth setup experience did kinda suck (the "pairing" process was troublesome). Now that it works I really like not having to deal with the cable. Now if they can just fix the security problems...

Apparently "George" is the worst support technician ever.

June 11, 2004

Despite what some people may think about Bill Ford Jr., his company has recently released a remarkable product: a hybrid SUV that gets 35-40mpg (city), can tow 1000lbs, and produces 155hp. It's an SUV that's hard to hate (unless you're trying to turn right and it's on your left blocking your view of oncoming traffic). The performance data is from Ford, so it's a bit early to throw them a party, but this is an interesting vehicle to watch. I think that given a choice, people who want the SUV features will happily opt for a hybrid vehicle, as long as the performance is decent (which it seems like it will be) and it's not a lemon. If this sells well then it would undoubtedly spur other auto makers to make copycat vehicles (if they're not working on doing so already).

Kim and I used to own an Acura Integra (47K JPEG). It was broken into several times, but never successfully stolen. Now I feel lucky: Last year's 25 most stolen cars has our model and year at #5, and other years of the same model occupy spots #2, 4, 6, 7, and 8!

Here are a couple of interesting stories about what our government is up to: Ashcroft grilled on torture rules and Dismay at legal justifications for torture. When Mario Cuomo was on The Daily Show recently, he had a interesting point to make about Senator John Kerry's lacking Presidential campaign efforts so far: the wisest strateg[er]y is to lay low and let all of the bad news about Iraq and the economy and the Patriot Act etc. play out and stick to Bush, rather than sticking his head up and giving them someone to point at in an effort to distract people. Well, OK, maybe that's what he's up to, or maybe his campaign advisors are just clueless. But, it seems to be working, since Bush's approval rating is dropping like a 10,000lb weight on a cartoon coyote.

Many years ago when the web was young I encountered a bizarre meme - the "____ ate my balls" web site. The one that I remember most clearly is Yoda Ate My Balls. Huh? Recently I ran across something linking to one of these and I was (for some reason) moved to try and recall the hideous glory that once was. And now I pass it on to you.

June 8, 2004

Verity Stob is a computer humor columnist, and damn she's funny. The world needs more hilarious she-nerds. Ladies, put down that Cosmo / Marie Claire / YM, they're lowering your IQ and your self esteem. Read Ms. Stob's column (here's a good one) and have a laugh. Then go read a book with no pictures, no ads, and no perfume in it.

Kim and her mom and I went to see Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban on Saturday. It was great. The reviews that say that it's darker and scarier are correct. There are a couple of changes from the book, and lots left out, but it works. One important note: get there early or pick a kid-unfriendly showtime. Our 3pm Saturday show was packed with little brats who wouldn't stop talking and sniffling and squirming, and we got pretty bad seats too. (We tried to get there early but were only there about 20 minutes before showtime.)

Software Development Magazine may have the worst home page layout (for a big corporate site) that I've ever seen. Or not. But it's really really bad.

I think there should be a business rule for Netflix that stops giving you movie recommendations when your movie queue is already full (has 500 movies in it). What's the point? I can't add the movie to my queue. Netflix, you tease!