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November 24, 2002

Corporate accounting reform? Nonsense! What we really need is more of the same! (If by "we" you mean "accounting firms".)

No, you're not the only one who's tired of the ridiculously implausible special effects coming out of Hollywood: behold Insultingly Stupid Movie Physics.

"Sooner rather than later" is a phrase that annoys me. Many people use this expression. I think they are using bad grammar. And yet, even college professors giving advice on writing style and speech instructors use it. But I think it's grammatically incorrect. What they really mean is "soon", which is an adverb. Example: "We need to address this sooner rather than later." Let's reword this without changing the meaning: "We need to address this more soon instead of more late." More soon than what? Later? Well, then later than what? Perhaps the phrase comes from "sooner or later, but preferably 'sooner' rather than 'later'". Well, "sooner or later" has the same problem, but now we've come up with a grammatically bogus figure of speech derived from that grammatically bogus figure of speech. Whee! How about just saying "soon"? Oh no, then we wouldn't be able to jibber jabber as though we have something to say. It's the heart of bullshitting - sounding like you're actually saying something, when you're really not... or at least, making a simple comment like "This is important" into "We really need to address this sooner rather than later."

Here's an article that says Microsoft isn't profitable if you count stock options as wages.

Here are some photos from the Halloween 2002 Scarevenger Hunt. This year we didn't win, which was a relief, since we want it to be fun for everybody. (We came in third place.)

November 14, 2002

I have a story from a few weeks ago to tell. It was chilly outside and I was taking advantage of the fireplace in our new apartment for the second day in a row. Kim was home sick and I stepped out to pick up a couple of burritos from our favorite local taqueria. (Those of you not from San Francisco may not be aware of this, but burritos here are like pizza or bagels in New York. Burritos are made differently and are a culinary art form here.) When I came back Kim told me that the fire department had been there! I was surprised since I was only a few blocks away and didn't hear anything, and I wondered why they would decide to stop by. Apparently, a concerned neighbor who smelled smoke but couldn't see the chimney (it's not visible from the street) so they called the fire department. Oops. Well, at least somebody was paying attention.

I have finally joined all the other yuppie drones in becoming a retail coffee addict. Specifically, every week or so I get a Tully's Iced Mocha. A couple of weeks ago, the cashier at my local Tully's persuaded me to try a $20 gift card. "But Jamie," you say, "you're just lending them $20 for free." Well, not exactly. I put it on a 0% APR credit card, so actually a bank is lending me $20 for free, which I'm lending Tully's. They paid me interest in the form of one free drink so actually I'm profiting on it. Also, I was feeling somewhat guilty about the amount of fat involved in a drink that's mostly made of steamed whole milk. Then one day, *ding*, I realized that I could get it with soy milk instead. There's no milk in my refrigerator (just soy milk) and it didn't occur to me until a week or two ago that I could just substitute it. Duh. Oh well. The moral of the story is, a bank has decided to lend me a half dozen soy vanilla iced mochas.

Connmon is a handy Linux connection monitor. I had been using Conntrack Viewer but it had some kind of weird problems with showing dead connections for an unreasonably long time.

This BusinessWeek Article has a quote from Mark Hanson, vice-president for the Sony Vaio line "PCs have been sold on the basis of speed. We're trying to get away from that measure because consumers are struggling to understand what the benefits of it are." This is an interesting statement given the effort which AMD is putting into playing down CPU clock speeds in favor of benchmarks. For that matter, Apple is trying to convince people that a highly optimized Photoshop benchmark on the most expensive Power Macintosh goes a bit faster than the fastest PC, and therefore the price-performance advantage is not purely in Intel's favor. It's odd that someone might say that speed doesn't matter given all the effort that these companies are putting into selling speed, but I'd like to believe that user productivity matters more than the clock speed of the CPU in the computer.

Life Balance is a really, really cool to-do manager. PalmOS based PDAs come with a wimpy little flat-list-of-tasks to-do manager. I wanted hierarchy, recurring tasks, and computed priority based on the hierarchy. Life Balance has it. They just released a desktop version for Windows which is nice since I use Windows as my desktop OS for syncing my PDA (because Palm Desktop for MacOS sucks). The Windows desktop version is sluggish but it's still much more efficient than using the PalmOS version for data entry. The only feature that's missing is multiple dependencies - meaning, tasks that can be in the critical path of more than one goal. That would help because there are plenty of examples of tasks in my life that are blocking important stuff from happening, and I want it to help me keep my priorities straight.

November 6, 2002

How about them election results? So much for checks and balances; now W controls the legislature. "No it doesn't work that way", you say? Oh, OK, so all these Republican congresspeople are gonna suddenly start voting all liberal and stuff? Defy the party that bought them their seats? Yeah right. We're all screwed. My prediction: Reagan will look like a hippie by comparison.

Kim and I voted yesterday, of course. The polling location is 3 doors down. I like living in the city.

Eric Conveys an Emotion is really, really funny. Look on the left side and be patient, it gets a lot funnier as you get past the first 10 or 20 emotions. (Example: "Working on a Tech Support Line, Answering Your 500th Call of Someone Who Claims He Can't Send Email") Really, really funny, I tells ya.

WorldCom found another $2 BILLION in fraud. Oops. But now that we have a Republican Congress you can be sure that none of this will ever be linked to the White House or any elected officials. 2 or 3 CFOs will go to jail and that's all.

Some guy not named "Jim" gave away his most secret personal information for a phony "background check". Duh. Sorry but this is foolish, no matter what the article says about it. When I went to interview at Epicentric a few years ago, before I was even allowed to interview they shoved a background check form at me and told me to fill it out. It had sections for my driver's license number, credit check approval, etc. on it. For an interview! Of course I said "no, I'll fill this out later if things go well." I mean, I respect a good corporate security policy as much as the next paranoi-, um, I mean security-aware individual, but leading the process with a background check seems a bit intrusive to me. Well the interviews went very well... but the recruiter never called me back. Imagine that. Can you imagine actually giving away your bank account information, mother's maiden name, and so on? Seriously. "Oh yeah, and the application fee is $10,000 too. And we need to borrow any SecurID cards you have, and make copies of all your keys. And you have to sign over the deed to your house and the title to your car to us, just temporarily." "Okay, no problem! Do you take Diner's Club?"

I just bought a Blaupunkt MP3000 car stereo to replace the car stereo that was stolen a few months ago when I was parked near work. Yeah, I went several months without a car stereo. Lame but ya know, priorities, and stuff... and I didn't want to buy a new car stereo without researching it a bit. Well I have, and although I didn't get the super bomb diggity DVD/SACD/PlayStation2/Changer/Screen Saver models that are out there, I didn't pay $3000 for it either. It's just a CD player that handles MP3s on CD-R/RW media, with a display that shows more letters of the song title than the Sony units do. 8 characters is just not enough, and title scrolling is annoying. Crutchfield rules, by the way. They sent all the needed hardware and wiring stuff and plenty of very well written, clear instructions on how to do the wiring and installation. I already got the wiring working (first try) but I haven't mounted it in the car yet (it was dark!). If you wanna buy something from them use my referral code (pwac2-5a0ut-50jcy) so I can get a $20 discount off my inevitable next purchase.

I'm still working on my application to SFSU. I have to get my high school transcript and figure out which of the classes I took previously (like, 10 years ago) map to California state school general education requirements, so I don't have to take that stuff again. The funny thing is, 12 years later, the same person is the registrar at my high school! Her signature is on my old old old 12th grade report card, dated 1990. Amazing. I guess some industries don't have a 50% average turnover rate.

I have more stuff to write about but I don't have time to write it all now... this'll have to hold you.