g r o t t o 1 1

Peeve Farm
Breeding peeves for show, not just to keep as pets
Brian Tiemann
Silicon ValleyNew York-based purveyor of a confusing mixture of Apple punditry, political bile, and sports car rentals.

btman at grotto11 dot com

Read These Too:

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James Lileks
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As the Apple Turns
Entropicana
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Capitalist Lion
Red Letter Day
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Corsair the Rational Pirate
.clue
Ravishing Light
Rosenblog
Cartago Delenda Est



Cars without compromise.





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12/17/2001 - 12/23/2001
Sunday, August 11, 2002
02:07 - Just a little note there, Greg.

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Just caught the Greg Proops stand-up routine on Comedy Central. It was kinda subdued; true, he was following a completely frenetic ball of crack named Mario something who struck me as being like a ferret racing in circles around a room while constantly emitting an ear-splitting Gilbert Gottfried scream-- but somehow I got the feeling Greg was expecting to get more laughs than he actually got. Perhaps he's just been doing Whose Line? for too long, and he's lost the touch for stand-up. Ah well-- it was still a very entertaining set.

There was one bit of material, though, that I had to raise a finger and clear my throat at, though I know that doing so would have effectively eliminated his ability to do that series of jokes. This was his thing about California's ban on smoking in bars.

Greg's point was, "Hey! This is a bar we're talking about here! These people are already involved in consuming a lifespan-shortening chemical as quickly as possible in the hopes of making unprotected sexual contact with someone they've never met before. What the hell's the point of making them make sure that while they're destroying their livers and making fools of themselves before staggering out to their cars with anonymous floozies on their arms, they're not going to end up with lung cancer on top of it all? They're not worried about second-hand smoke!"

Uh... no, but the bartender is. And the waitresses. That is who the law is for.

Otherwise, yeah, it was funny. But I'm just sayin'.

22:45 - I'm preordering this book...
http://www.lileks.com/bleats/archive/02/0802/080202.html#081202

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Great payoff on today's Bleat. It's long and artsy, and you have to stick with it-- but it ends in a LOL. (Not a LOLOLOL or a LOOOOL or an OMFG, but still-- excellent.)

I wonder why I haven't picked up the print version of the Gallery of Regrettable Food yet. I've been showing it to people with great relish since I first discovered it in about 1997. I should get me a copy.

16:59 - Uh, guys...

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The latest charming missive from the Ar-Rahman list, which hardly requires comment (not that I can refrain from it):



Now, again, I realize that this list is about preaching-to-the-choir. But listen, guys: not just Allah, but the world is watching you now, very damned closely. And stuff like this does not exactly drum up sympathy. You don't get to mass-mail pictures of Sharon as a baby-murdering butcher-shop owner dealing in human sausages, and then take horrified offense at a picture like this, no matter who created it. (I would venture to guess that the Koran has unflattering things to say about hypocrisy, just like eveybody else does.) And it does not raise sympathy for your cause either to lead it off with Juden Raus slogans.

("From a jewish site". Yeah? Which one? Got a URL? Any facts at all?)

I've got news for you: it's not just "Jews and Indians" who are creating pictures like this. They're not the only ones who are desperate to see an end to this bloodthirsty Wahhabi madness.

Besides, in the midst of all this shrill virulent indignance on the list, I have yet to see a single condemnation of violence committed by Muslims, let alone of 9/11. Which, I hardly need to explain, actually happened. The Ka'aba is still standing. It's only because of the West's common human decency and unwillingness to damage sites of religious significance or antiquity that that is the case, but I hope would-be mass terrorists are bearing in mind that such decency is bound to have limits. Should another 9/11 happen, the scenario this image depicts might well become a very real and justified measure in the minds of Americans (and even Europeans, if they get attacked, perish the thought). No matter how many US cities they manage to take out with suitcase nukes or anthrax, all it takes is a press of a button to send a cruise missile into Mecca. I hope that keeps them up at night.

I wonder if the Islamic world has at least accepted that Muslims were actually behind the 9/11 attacks, and that it wasn't just a Jewish plot as they so stubbornly maintained for months afterwards?
Saturday, August 10, 2002
19:33 - So who's been screwing with the lighting out there?

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I don't often drive westward through San Jose towards work in the late summer evening, as the sun is descending into the Peninsula mountains, so I don't know if it's always like this. If it is, I should do it more often.

It's been very hot all day today-- well over 100, and still and close, unlike the usual windy summer days we usually get around here-- carrying the haze out of the valley and drawing humidity away from one's skin, so if it's 95 out you can just open a window and you'd have an occasional gusty breeze all day that prevents the heat from being uncomfortable.

But today's heat was different; it was the kind of heat in which the entire color of the sky changes. And not in a Midwestern, opaque whiteness kind of way; it was sort of a dingy, smoky, gray veil over the sun. Looking towards the mountains and the lines of trees, I kept expecting to see them shrouded by a murky brown LA-like haze. But I didn't. The sun was falling on leaves and turning them to clear gold. It was reflecting off buildings and railing the contrast slider, enhancing the vividness of everything, even though the sky itself seemed as dull as though we were in the middle of an eclipse.

There was a big, heavy, ponderous swath of cloud across the horizon, right above the mountains, that the sun was punching through on it way down as I made my way westward towards it. It seemed to be in one fringe or the other the whole time. And the result was that the long evening shadows on the ground blended into gold and bright blue rather than into grays and browns. The sun has by now emerged out the bottom of those clouds, and the colors are returning to something more closely approaching normal, but I don't think it'll get all the way there-- the air is just in a really weird mood today.

Ah well. I've spent the day recording Invader Zim episodes and watching the Season Two DVDs of the Simpsons, so I figured I'd better get in to work or else I'd feel humomgously guilty about having wasted a day with a sky like this.
Friday, August 9, 2002
21:42 - The Almighty Dollar

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So I was just watching a Dell commercial selling PowerEdge servers, in which they're (naturally) put forth as the premier examples of 1U/2U server hardware; the servers in the ad that the IT person so wisely replaced are now employed as the components of a BattleBots-esque mechanical free-for-all in the parking lot. For the insight it takes to buy the cheapest solutions in the world, from the ubiquitous name Dell which covers him in the event of any mishaps, he's the Man of the Hour.

Well, guys, I've now had some experience with PowerEdge servers, and I feel I can with some authority state that price isn't everything-- as I've said here so many times before-- even if it comes from a company that's big enough to sue if the products turn out to suck.

I installed a PowerEdge 1500 server into our data-center about six months ago. About three weeks after installation, the gigabit Ethernet card failed; the kernel kept overflowing with checksum errors, and eventually it stopped responding altogether and I had to plug the server into another switch via one of its 10/100 cards.

This week, I discovered that now it no longer can see that it has a CD-ROM drive. (At least it had the decency to say "No CD-ROM drive found" at the BIOS screen, where it also helpfully told me "The cover was previously removed" and forced me to press F1 to continue, not that this cleared the error or anything.) This caused me some displeasure as I tried to install the Legato client via the installation CD. But again, not fatal, as I was able to copy the RPM off the disc (using another machine) and FTP it over. I'm starting to get the feeling that this machine is slowly deteriorating, component by component, before it has even reached a year of age.

Couple this with the fact that in our entire data-center full of rack-mount PowerEdge servers, each of which has an intricate front-panel locking mechanism which anchors in on one side and snaps into place on the other, and then locks in via a notch in the server's body when you turn the key, not a single machine has the front panel on properly. Every last one has been sort of awkwardly smushed into place and left there, in the hopes that nobody jostles the cabinet and all the front panels fall off. The panels are designed so ingeniously that even with the best efforts of our entire IT department and myself, it's impossible to get them attached properly.

The IBM NetFinity servers that we used to use are so much better, in almost every way. No brain-dead front panel. No self-induced decrepitude in component quality. Cable-management arms and sturdy rails. (Hell, if it had a few more drive bays, a separate IDE channel per drive, an AGP4x slot, dual gigabit Ethernet, hot-swappable fans, and about half the heat signature and power consumption, it might even pass for an Xserve.)

But no, the Dell costs like $100 less, so we have to standardize on it instead.

I am so sick of this world being run by the attitude that quality and features are immaterial compared to cost, even (and especially) in the context of business. It's so much more effective, after all, to buy whatever's cheapest and then relegate the recovery from any potential failures to the legal department. Hey, you might even get rich off a settlement from the vendor! How's that for a one-time receivable to list in a non-pro-forma quarterly report?

It's sickening enough when private individuals play the hot-coffee-in-the-lap card. But it's loathsome when entire industry sectors base their entire business plans on it.
Thursday, August 8, 2002
01:40 - "What is possible has now exceeded what is desirable"
http://www.mobileblocker.com/info/information.asp

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That's a quote from Bob Lutz of GM, in reference to monstrously overdone pieces of in-car technology like BMW's atrocious iDrive system, on which I just heard a scathing piece as part of tonight's All Things Considered on NPR (it's terribly funny to listen to, and I recommend it).


And now that we've got more technology than we know what to do with, particularly in the case of things like cell phones, we're as a society going to have to face a decision sooner or later: at what point does technology and its seductive charms become too convenient? At what point does one invoke Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes' statement that "My right to swing my fist ends where the other man's nose begins"-- and apply it to technology that provides convenience to one person at the expense of the comfort or well-being or safety of another?

I'm speaking, of course, of cell-phones. Having just sat through a staff meeting in which I counted an average of one ringing phone per ninety seconds, some of which were from the same person, most of which were loud, with a ring tone seemingly selected to be as piercing and bone-grindingly annoying as possible-- I would like to know when there will be some actual consequences laid upon the people who profess to "own" those phones (rather than being owned by them). Sure, I'm aware that there are many people who use cell-phones responsibly and sanely. I'm sure there are also plenty of Muslims who are non-violent and don't want to stab Jews in the eye. But in both those cases, I insist that the onus lies upon that "silent majority" to lay the smack down on the vocal and hideous minority, to let the world know that these kinds of statistical outliers are not to give a bad name to the community as a whole. (And if that doesn't happen, sometimes there's no choice but to assume that the only voice we hear representing such a community is the only one that there is to listen to.)

For instance, one could take the example of cell-phone use in cars. Some states (such as New York) have already passed laws forbidding people to use phones in cars without some kind of hands-free gear; but Paul tells me that such laws are so lax in their enforcement that they may as well not be there. Some might argue that "Hey, what's the big deal?" Whereas to me, it suggests that if the law is there but it's not acting as a deterrent, then someone needs to be made an example of.

Why, I might ask, is cell-phone use in cars not treated with the same severity as DUI? To my mind, it's the same exact thing. Driving Under the Influence. The implication is of "alcohol" or "drugs", but let's not be pedantic about this: the spirit of the DUI laws are to prevent people from driving after or while committing a willful act which actively hampers their own abilities to drive a car safely. And talking on a cell-phone while driving is at least as distracting as being drunk. I'm sure any highway patrolman who has overseen his share of T-bone accidents at intersections where the person on the phone "didn't see the other guy coming", or who has shoveled up one too many SUVs that have drifted off into the median of the freeway while the driver was busy yapping, and jerked his wheel back onto the road, causing the vehicle to fishtail and the wheels to knuckle over and the car to roll side-over-side into the grass, would be all to ready to agree. Particularly considering the number of the latter such cases in which the driver, strapped into his or her seat upside-down in the supine car, is still talking on the phone when the cop reaches the door.

I'm honestly interested in knowing: what makes non-hands-free in-car cell-phone use different from DUI? If the answer is "nothing", then why aren't the laws enacted and enforced in such a way that makes it no less undesirable or risky to do it than to drink and drive? And if the answer is something like "C'mon-- you can't honestly expect people to give up their cell-phones!", then I would ask to see some proceedings from the 30s, or whenever it was when the modern DUI/DWI laws were solidified; I would be not at all surprised to discover that there was a significant, vocal outcry from motorists: "Hey, c'mon! You can't seriously be asking us to give up drinking in the car, or driving home plastered from the bar! What kind of fascist government would ask such things of us?"

Shifting gears for a moment-- iDrive represents a forward-thinking step toward the greater integration of technology into our cars, for the betterment of drivers everywhere. But as it's implemented by BMW, it's a joke-- and not a very funny one. It's easy to see what the designers were trying to do-- they thought, "Hey-- we've got computers that can watch DVDs and download the Encyclopedia Brittanica at the same time; in-car technology surpassed that of the lunar lander so long ago it's a wonder our cars can't fly to the moon themselves. So why the hell are we still making people fiddle with specialized, one-function knobs and buttons? We should make everything work like a computer!" ... Except that nobody seems to understand that operating a computer, with a mouse-like device and contextual menus and no tactile feedback, is a process that requires cognitive processing and complete visual attention. (This is acceptable at a desk because we can afford to devote our whole attention to navigating an operating system. But in a car, it can be fatal.) The human body is wired to understand spatial relationships, rather than abstract algorithms such as "last-modified date" (as in the much-ballyhooed and now much-discredited "Diary metaphor") or "functional groupings" (as with iDrive's hierarchical menuing system). We like to be able to reach for controls that we know how to operate without looking, or even thinking. In fact, that's crucial to survival in a car.

Some things that were designed in the 1930s had better UI principles that things that are being designed in 2002. That's because sometimes, the best ideas are the first ones we come up with-- despite the lack of certain kinds of technology which could have influenced those ideas.

That's why, for instance, one can't argue that cell-phones are perfectly safe because pilots have been flying airplanes for decades while talking on the radio, and that's never caused a crash. No-- it's a totally different thing. Airplanes and their radios were designed to work together-- so that the reaction time required in flying a plane would intermingle with the terse command language flowing back and forth; pilots don't have to react nearly as fast as motorists do, and when they do, their attention is focused on the radio conversation and the plane's controls as a unit. It's all the same machine. It's designed to channel one's attention efficiently toward where it needs to be. But automobile controls are a technology and an operation paradigm that precede cell-phones by a hundred years. The cadences of movement and the rhythms of reaction are incompatible. They don't play nice together.

But cell-phones are cool, and they're so hard to say no to. The race to put more and more functionality into phones is every bit as intense and fast-moving as the race to add features to Netscape back in 1996. There seems to be no limit to the things we can do, or the functions that a cell-phone can serve.

But in the midst of that race, it's very easy to lose sight of those basic tenets of civilized living that have served us so well for so long: public courtesy, driving safety, and the idea that talking on the phone-- to someone who can't see when someone is about to merge into your lane or when your wheels are about to stray onto the shoulder, and therefore doesn't know to shut up so you can concentrate on driving-- is something that should occur when you're stationary and in private.

The ability to break those guidelines of common sense does not confer a license to do so.

If I could get one of these MobileBlocker devices to carry around with me, I would. And if Apple were to release something called iMeltYourCellPhone (regardless of how unlikely it would be that Sony-Ericsson would be a strategic partner), I'd preorder the first one off the assembly line.

21:08 - Top off your iPod's coolness tank
http://www.apple.com/ipod/download/

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The iPod firmware update to version 1.2 just came out today, and it rocks da house.

Now that iTunes can keep track of the play-count and last-played time of your songs, the iPod can now do the same thing-- play a bunch of music as you ramble around the town, and then when you sync it back up to your Mac, all the last-played times and play-counts are updated in iTunes to reflect what you've heard via the iPod as well as what you've played on the local machine. I love that. (It will also apparently handle Audible books-on-tape by keeping track of where you paused a file mid-track, then resume it there when you use your iPod-- and then update it back to your PC when you re-sync it.)

Other new updated features include support for the new Sound Check thing, so your ears won't get blown out by an MP3 that's recorded at a level twice as high as the previous track you'd listened to. It also has a new Clock screen, and a Date/Time setting-- so it can do the last-played times properly, as well as to support the also-new Calendar feature. This doesn't serve as a PDA-style appointment-reminder yet, because iCal isn't ready until next month; but until then, we've now got a cool little pocket calendar, which is non-trivial functionality.

It's also been reorganized slightly-- there's now a "Browse" option that gets you to the Artists/Albums/Songs/Genres/Composers selection menu (the latter two are new), and there are new updated graphics that make it clearer when it's not safe to disconnect the iPod from FireWire and when it's okay. There also seem to be a lot more languages supported.

This stuff's just so damn cool. Having Mac hardware is like having a car with a gas tank that you get to fill up with software coolness every few months; just when you've gotten used to what functionality you have in the current versions, along comes an update that's always geared more towards making it even more fun and cool than before, rather than just fixing bugs. It really does feel like my love for technology gets a new booster shot every time they do something like this.

Today at lunch, I was in a car with a friend who was searching for a song on the Discman-like MP3/CD player that was in the car. Because the player could only sort by filename, and because the guy didn't know whether the filename began with "Azar Habib" or "Hatten är Din" or what, he spent a good ten minutes skipping around blindly looking for it.

I couldn't resist peeking my iPod out of my pocket, so I could point out how much less tedious and more fun it is to be able to paw through one's songs on the basis of artist name, song title, genre, album, composer, or playlist-- without the slightest regard for what the filenames or folder names containing the actual MP3 files might be. His reaction was a pained whimper. "Everybody has an iPod except for me!"

(He also mentioned how software like WinAmp is supposed to let you manipulate the ID3 tags and sort the songs by them, but it doesn't often work very well-- some files simply won't let you edit the fields. Whereas with iTunes, it's simply a matter of clicking on a field and typing. And it even updates the filenames and folders accordingly, now-- just in case anyone cares to delve into the filesystem for some reason. But otherwise it's a purely ID3-tag-driven interface.)

And now that it's available for Windows too, it takes a whole lot of effort to come up with a reason to dislike the iPod.

Unless it's the FireWire issue... and now that Apple has released a free SDK for FireWire to developers of embedded devices, the counterarguments are getting thinner instead of multiplying.

Maybe I should buy stock in a clothing maker who sells shirts with breast pockets.

18:18 - Snapz Pro X Updated
http://www.AmbrosiaSW.com/utilities/snapzprox/

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For anybody who cares, Snapz Pro X-- the coolest screen-capture utility in the inner planets of this solar system-- has been updated to version 1.0.6. This version adds some interesting features like the ability to grab individual objects (e.g. windows or menus) and drop-shadow them against white, using the native Quartz window-layering APIs, as though they were displayed against a white desktop background. Perfect for things like documentation screenshots, and (heh) blog illustrations.

Like this one, in which I once again sing my praises to the way you install programs on a Mac:



(And it's not as though you have to put it in the Applications folder, either. You can put it anywhere you want. But just for neatness' sake...)

Life without a Registry. It's like lemonade on a white-sand beach.

11:47 - Yay-- I have my camera back!

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I guess bitching really pays off.

In mid-May, my Nikon CoolPix 885 abruptly broke. I say "broke" because even though it appeared to be an unrecoverable software error of some sort (when I unplugged it from my computer one day, it said "SYSTEM ERROR" and refused to come back to life or retract its lens), when I shipped it to the repair facility they told me it required "major parts replacement" and would cost me $181. Since I didn't have the receipt and couldn't prove I was still in the warranty period, I didn't have much of a choice.

Over two months later, having spent the intervening time glumly watching their Service page report my case as being stuck in PARTS HOLD mode and repeately trying to call them for information (being told every time that the approximate wait time was ten minutes, only to spend the subsequent hour waiting and listening to the same unchanging theme-song jingle, and never reaching a human), I finally managed to reach someone in late July. I explained that I needed this camera for a trip in August, and that although I was perhaps overly optimistic in thinking that sending it in for repair in May would give them ample time to do such a repair-- particularly considering that I was paying over a third of the camera's retail price for this service, which should have been under warranty anyway-- I'd surely waited long enough that I should have some basis for complaint by now.

Of course, none of the databases at Nikon can communicate with any of the other databases at Nikon, so the only thing the service rep could tell me that it was in PARTS HOLD. Oh, great. The only information they have in the service department is the same information we have available over the Web. (I hope she isn't just using the same website to look up the camera status as I was.)

But she said she would make a call and find out. (When I told her I needed it in mid-August, she seemed to brighten-- "Give me an exact date, and I'll put it on here. That'll really bump up the priority.") She called back the next day to tell me that they'd been expecting a new shipment of parts from Japan, but it hadn't arrived the previous month, and it hadn't arrived this month either. So they were starting to ship out replacement units to customers who had cameras with pending parts service.

She called back again the following Monday (that would be this week) to tell me that she didn't have any new information, but that they would ship out a new camera to me as soon as possible. I guess having that specific date on the work order really does expedite things.

Because today there was a box sitting on my chair. A brand-new Coolpix 885. Huzzah!

It seems to be a little bit cooler than it was before, too. I think this model is nearing the end of its lifespan, and they're sweetening the deal a bit so they can clear out stock. For instance, the box now includes a rechargeable battery and charger-- something that would have cost me about $120 extra if I'd bought it with the old camera. And there seem to be a few new features in the camera's OS-- like the ability to order prints directly from the CompactFlash card (you do all the print-ordering stuff right in the camera, it stores those settings on the card, and then you take the card to the photo-finisher where he plugs it into a machine and out come prints). Plus I now have a redundant USB cable (ferrite beads and all) and power cable, so I can use it at work. I think I ended up getting a pretty sweet deal out of all this.

Oh, and one final note:



The slip on the left is a release note regarding Mac OS X. The one on the right is a release note regarding Windows XP.

The OS X one says that the bundled "Nikon View 5" software "may not function as expected" on a dual-processor Power Mac G4. It says to run it in OS 9 instead. (Shyeah, right-- I'll just use iPhoto.)

The Windows XP one says that you'd better not use the operating system's built-in Rotate functions, in the Thumbnail View mode, because doing so will blank out all the EXIF image meta-data-- shutter speed, aperture size, exposure time, and so on. So will choosing "Simple" from the Summary tab of the Properties dialog box for any of the files-- it will rewrite the file and erase all the associated meta-data. Yeah, great implementation there, guys.

You're also not supposed to format the CompactFlash card under Windows XP, or it will no longer be compatible with the camera-- you'll have to reformat it using the camera's OS.


...Tell me again which platform is supposed to be more hassle-free?

09:33 - I was not aware of that.

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Apparently, we're all Muslims-- we just don't know it. See, you don't convert to Islam-- you revert.

Salaam.. everyone person born is a muslim at birth, since it is the true religion.  After time, whether it be parents, where we live whatever, that changes, and people have then conform to their different religions.  So I have reverted back to Islam.  Most people that I have talked to, do not like the word converted.  That means you made an entire switch, which is not true. Since you start off as Muslim,  you are just reverting or coming back to it. I truly hope i have said this correctly. If I have not please forgive me and correct me.

Boy... the things I learn about myself from this Ar-Rahman list.

Seriously, it's every bit as important to hear this kind of stuff as it is to hear the intelligent discourse from sane Muslims who have a grip on reality. We can't blind ourselves to either side.



By the way-- yeah, I know this kind of thinking is hardly unique to Islam. I've heard the same kinds of things out of the mouths of everybody from Baptists to Branch Davidians. I just find it awfully silly, though, regardless of the person's background who's saying it.

I spent my entire freshman year arguing with my devoutly Christian roommate, plastering written re-re-rebuttals all over the interior of our room and spilling over outside into the hallway. (We never actually discussed it face to face-- we just posted these long dissertations at each other and never mentioned them out loud.) One thing he said was that "Atheists don't go to Hell-- they just return to the dirt from which they came." In other words, you had to be a Christian and an apostate in order to go to Hell.

Interesting fairy-tale semantics, but that's all it is. To someone who doesn't subscribe to them.

Besides, Aziz points out that there's a "No compulsion in religion" clause in Islam that this person seems to be ignoring, and a verse (109:6) that says "To you be your Faith, and to me mine." So, well, it's not like contradictory behavior to what's in the text is unique to Islam either; but at least this person's either wrong, or simply walled off by context. And either way, it's just wordplay.



09:21 - Well well well.
http://www.mdronline.com/mpf/conf.html

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Confirmation of Rumor Time: IBM has just made it official. They're prepping a new 64-bit PPC chip. Who could this possibly be for?

As reported by MaCNN:

IBM is expected to disclose the technical details of its new 64-bit PowerPC microprocessor designed for desktops and entry-level servers at the upcoming Microprocessor Forum in October. The design, based on the Power4 design which the company uses in high-end servers, is an 8-way superscalar design that fully design supports Symmetric MultiProcessing (SMP). The chip also has an AtliVec-like vector processing unit that implements over 160 specialized vector instructions and implements a system interface capable of up to 6.4GB/s.

In other words: Toodles, Moto. <Austin Powers theme plays>

I like the sound of this.
Wednesday, August 7, 2002
22:40 - Did I really just see that?

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I just saw a Barbie doll commercial on TV. At the end of the ad, they mentioned the Barbie website and the stuff that you can do on it if you're the kind of kid who would find such things compelling. Naturally, such a pitch has to have a disclaimer on it that says you should be over 18 to go online and gain access to the site, a stricture traditionally conveyed with statements like "Your parents put it together" and "You must have your parents' permission to visit the website".

But this one-- though I only saw it for a fraction of a second, I'm sure I saw it correctly. It said:

"Help Mom or Dad to get online."

Genius.

22:37 - Things that defy description
http://serendipity.magnet.ch/wtc.html

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Has this site already been discussed and beaten to death in the blog world? And I'm just late to the game? Or is it actually enjoying a wave of popularity?

The site, called "The World Trade Center Demolition and the So-Called War on Terrorism", comes to us as the "Awful Link of the Day" from somethingawful.com. It seems to be the definitive 9/11 conspiracy-theory treatise, purporting to explain how the whole thing was a massive hoax perpetrated by the CIA, the top-level government, and the Jews. The goal of all this is hard to discern-- the main thrust of the site appears to be to discredit the idea that Islamic terrorists hijacked the planes, and instead that the attacks were carried out by remote-controlled drone planes, demolition bombs, high explosives (in the case of the Pentagon), or perhaps even a high-powered laser weapon. But if anything in the site proposes any kind of goal to this whole conspiracy thing, it's the closing paragraphs:

And what if the U.S. warmongers achieve their aims of gaining control of all sources of oil in Asia (and the Middle East and North Africa), and of the mineral wealth of Central Asia?  Will the Europeans, Japanese and Chinese feel secure in the knowledge that the United States will surely sell them whatever they need to maintain their industrial economies — and their military capabilities?  (The Russian and Chinese leaders surely understand the long-term threat to their national sovereignty, and are acting accordingly.)

Or is there something even more sinister going on?  Is the goal "at the highest level" the extinction of the human species?  If so, will the American people prove to be "useful idiots" facilitating the attainment of this goal?  Or, on the contrary, might they yet awaken from their ignorance, their stupidity, their greed and their egoism, take a hard look at themselves, understand what their lying, vicious, rapacious, hypocritical government is doing in the name of "freedom and democracy", and rein in and reform that government, reconstitute their nation as a republic as the authors of the Constitution intended, and save the world, as they believe (or used to believe) is their manifest destiny?

Ah, good. The goal of this conspiracy is to enslave and/or exterminate the human race. Why this would benefit anybody more than a prosperous and free society (like the one we have now) would is left unclear.

Read through this page, if you feel like shaking your head in disbelief at something, but you want a change of pace from the current Jew-stabbing-teens message boards and would rather see a Libertarian-who-gives-Libertarians-a-bad-name set of allegations supported by Chomsky quotes and barbs at "the Jew-controlled media", hosted in Switzerland because-- well, it's Switzerland.

I could say a lot more about this, but... it's really not worth my time.

Draw your own conclusions.

14:49 - Text Handling

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I like the way the Mac handles text selection and keyboard/mouse interaction with typing.

Apple introduced the first paradigms for how GUI text selection should work: you select some text, and then whatever you type or paste replaces whatever is selected. Double-click in some text, and it selects the word; triple-click, and it selects the sentence, or the paragraph. Double-click a word and then drag to the next word, and it selects that whole word.

Then Windows came along, and decided to make it all smarter. Like, for instance, in Word, if you double-click on a word, it selects not just the word but the space following it as well, so that if you delete the word it will also delete the space and leave you with just one space between the remaining words. And if you single-click in a word and drag to the next word, it selects the next word and the entire first word as well. It's impossible to select just the part of a sentence, from the middle of a word to the middle of another word, without a lot of indeterminate mouse flailing.

It's amazing to me how thin a line there is between "software that tries so hard to be 'smart' that it interferes with your workflow" and "software that does what you tend to want".


I like, for instance, some of the pieces of "smartness" that Apple is putting into OS X. For instance: in Mail, if you're typing a list of names or e-mail addresses into the To: field, as soon as you type enough of a name for it to identify a complete address-book entry, it fills it out for you-- standard auto-complete stuff. The rest of the address, which you haven't typed yet, is selected, so anything further that you type replaces it. Just as you'd expect. But if you type a comma, it takes that to mean "I accept that address, as you've auto-completed it; rewrite the name as it appears in the Address Book, move the cursor to the end, and let me start typing a new address". It's a special-case exception to the old strike-over text-selection tactics, and it works bloody well.

And if you're typing in TextEdit or any text field, you can double-click on a word, and only that word will be selected-- not the space before or after the word. that way, if you start typing, it preserves the spaces as they were, and your new word replaces only the word that was selected. But if you delete the selected word, it also deletes one of the spaces, leaving only one. Which is what you want it to do. And meanwhile, if you place the cursor between two letters and drag to some other point in the paragraph, it won't extend the selection box beyond what you asked for-- it will select just the stuff between where you clicked and where you released. If you'd wanted it to select whole words, you'd have double-clicked before dragging.

(Oh, and everything in the system uses the same text-handling engine; there's none of this "Well, text behaves one way in Word, and another way in IE, and another way in this piece of shareware that I have" stuff. With the exception of a few Cocoa-specific things like UNIX-style keybindings, everything in OS X, from the Finder to OmniWeb to the Terminal, has the same text behaviors. It's all the same code. That's why Inkwell will work anywhere in the system, even at the command line. Yikes!)

It's this kind of stuff that makes publishing professionals and writers prefer Macs. The text behaviors make sense; they don't try to outsmart you. It's hard to tell whether it's this way because the designers within Apple use Windows sporadically and find out each time what horrible things Windows does that PC users are all to used to by now, that only Mac people will notice because they're used to a much more intuitive paradigm-- or if it's simply that they analyze how they themselves type and work with text, decide continuously that "This is the way it should be," and program in that direction.

I can tell you one thing: if I'd had to use Word on a PC for my book, I'd have gone mad before I made it three chapters.

14:17 - Mountains out of ...mooooooooles
http://www.zdnet.com/anchordesk/stories/story/0,10738,2876696,00.html

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David, David, David.

This is a perfect example of an entire industry's press field finding completely non-newsworthy things to write about, presumably because there's nothing else on the radar. David Coursey is the latest high-profile tech columnist to leap onto the "Macs on Intel" bandwagon, which (you may recall) is founded upon nothing more concrete or explicit than Steve Jobs responding to a question about putting Intel CPUs into Macs with the line, "First we have to finish the transition to OS X. Then we'll be able to evaluate our options." That's it. That's all he said.

And now we have analysts like Andrew Neff of Bear Stearns saying that there is "an 80% chance" of Apple moving to Intel processors. Like it's some kind of weather forecast or earthquake prediction. Just what precisely are your indicators, Andrew? Did four out of five informants within Apple tell you that this was so? Or did you just wake up one morning and with a gasp of surprise find that number wedged up your rectum?

Moving to Intel CPUs, even if we cast it in such terms as "AMD would be the supplier" and "Just the CPUs and the basic architecture would change-- it would still be a whole-widget operation, and you wouldn't be able to run Mac OS X on random off-the-shelf PC hardware", would still be an intractable feat. This isn't just a matter of flipping a compile-time switch when building the OS. All the third-party application makers would have to rewrite their apps for Intel, and this would come hard on the heels of their being yanked through the (somewhat painful) OS X transition process. App developers aren't going to stand for that twice in a row. They'll throw up their hands and say it's not worth it.

And even if they didn't, even if they stuck with the Mac-- it's not just a matter of flipping a compile-time switch in those apps, either. Most of them are written in Carbon, not Cocoa-- which means there's a significant amount of 68000-based code in it. That kind of stuff would have to be rewritten from scratch, in what would be an even more painful process than Carbonizing an app for OS X. And what of little/big-endian-ness? The Intel architecture is little-endian, whereas the 68K and PPC chips are big-endian (actually it's settable at boot time, interestingly). The Mac OS has always been big-endian. What that means is that any applications which expect to read the bit order in a certain sequence would be completely screwed, and the ordering code would have to be rewritten. This applies to nearly all networking applications, just for starters.

Sure, Apple could just emulate PPC code on Intel CPUs, like they did when they jumped from 68K to PPC. But that jump was a tiny curb compared to what this undertaking would be. The PPC had a very similar instruction set and architecture to the 68K-series. It was mostly trivial. Most basic assumptions about the chip were the same. And yet the emulated code was still terribly slow; it took years to get it all ironed out and made native. None of those architectural similarities would be there for the leap to Intel; it would be a much more difficult job to write an effective emulation layer. And it would undoubtedly be even more hideously slow than the earlier transition was.

And finally, what kind of Intel chips are we talking about here? Pentium 4s? The chip that even Intel is trying to replace at this very moment-- the one that's hurtling toward end-of-life, not just for its model, but for its entire bloodline? Apple would be arriving on the x86 platform just as it reached the twilight of its twenty-year lifespan; we'd be opening the door just as the lights went out, and Intel would have moved on to the 64-bit Itanium (or Mauritanium, or Lusitanium, or whatever the new one is called-- the one that runs at 800MHz, clocked slower than the G4). Apple would once again be a laughingstock, and this time the Megahertz Myth could be used against them.

Kris says that he is willing to wager, one year from now, an Intel-based Power Mac against David Coursey's PPC-based Power Mac: if Apple is on Intel in a year's time, he'll buy one for David. If they haven't, David has to buy him one of whatever they have.

I fully agree. Apple has options here, and that's what Jobs said. He didn't say a word about Intel. (What we do see are indicators that IBM will figure prominently in Apple's CPU-supplier future, with PPC/POWER4 hybrids, an uber-G3 clocked super-high but sans Altivec (one source I read recently blames none other than Altivec for hampering the speed-ramping capacity of the G4-- it's apparently a big roadblock to increased clock speed), or even the true and fabled 64-bit "Book E" G5.)

Options. That's all they are. Not the biggest tech news of the day.



UPDATE: Within about 13 seconds of my posting this, reader Kurt Revis responds with the following to my comment about app developers not being able to compile for Intel because of legacy 68K code:

I'm sorry, but this is just wrong. Nobody is shipping Carbon apps for OS X with any 68k code, because 68k code no longer works in OS X native apps. (It still works in Classic, of course.)

For many apps (Carbon or Cocoa is irrelevant), it really *should* be a matter of flipping a switch to compile on x86 (or whatever other processor you like). Some apps which use their own PowerPC assembly code will need to rewrite those parts for the new processor, but that's generally a very small amount of code. And many apps (the vast majority) don't have any assembly code at all.

You point out that there may be some bad assumptions about endianness issues when reading from disk/network, or alignment issues in memory, but again these are not huge stumbling blocks (unless the code is REALLY bad). The best practices these days include macros to do byteswapping when reading from disk/network, as appropriate -- the macros do nothing on big-endian machines but swap bytes on little-endian ones, or vice versa.

I'm sure that these issues will affect some people, but it's hardly the end of the world. If the benefits of switching to a new processor architecture are high enough--like making your app run twice as fast--people will do the work. The PPC emulation issue is really the hard part; everything else you mention is trivial in comparison.

This is all more information for me to assimilate into what's admittedly a rather sketchy understanding in my mind of what constitutes software design issues in today's Mac world. It's all a big jigsaw, and I don't pretend to have all the pieces. After having added these, the picture is a bit clearer.

I still tend to think there are other options Apple would choose before Intel, though. And I still think app developers wouldn't stand for having to modify their code again so soon after painfully Carbonizing everything (and having to sell it yet again).



13:17 - Media Bias

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You know what's funny? We in the blogosphere appear to have a pretty widespread consensus that the big media is of a liberal slant, with its continued nostalgic fascination with the Clintons, its merciless attacks upon the country's corporate upper-echelons, its pro-gun-control rhetoric, and its recent expressions of opposition to the war in Iraq and to Israel's policies, as well as being the bastion of moral-equivalence arguments and "why do they hate us?" soul-searching. The New York Times the Washington Post, CNN, Fox, CBS and so on-- they're all widely held to be disproportionate representatives of the liberal minds of Americans, claiming to speak for a great many more people than they really do.

But through the eyes of the Ar-Rahman list, what people keep saying is that the American media is hopelessly biased toward Israel. The exact opposite observation. They see the same media coverage that we do, of events in Jenin and Ramallah and Jerusalem, and while we might furrow our brows at the soulful camera pans across downtrodden Palestinians as the announcer explains why they feel their only choice is to blow themselves up in pizza parlors and dismiss it as liberal heart-wringing, to the Islamic viewpoint the exact opposite impression is given. To the people on the list, such coverage is nowhere near anti-Israeli enough. (I suppose this really shouldn't surprise me.) They feel they can't trust a word of what any media outlet says about the events in the Middle East. They're obviously lies and half-truths, covering up the heinous deeds of the Israelis which the biased conservative American media wants kept silent so the American people can be kept in the dark and their anger stirred to madness against the world's Muslims.

I guess it must be indicative of a certain kind of cultivated mindset to think that we in this country could possibly fail to gather the complete picture if we're really interested. This isn't the CCCP; this isn't China or Iraq. We don't have to rely on a state-run news organ to get our carefully filtered porthole into the outside world. Our big media agencies may be subject to bias, but they're private corporations-- each with their own internal agendas-- and there are a lot of them. We've got everything from Rush Limbaugh to The 700 Club to NPR. We've got the Drudge Report, we've got Stratfor.com, and we've got InstaPundit-- not to mention hundreds, if not thousands, of other blogs, comprising a spectrum of opinion that-- because it's individual people speaking, not shareholder-bound companies-- is at even wider variance than what's on TV.

And when they all agree on the basic facts of something that's happening in Tel Aviv or Nablus, then I'll tell you: it's pretty safe to say it's the real story.

The people on the Ar-Rahman list are giving each other tips and advice as to which news organs are more likely to present-- well, not an unbiased view of events, but at least one that's less horrifyingly pro-Israeli than most. "Try MSNBC," says one participant, "It's a little better than CNN or Fox."

I've got a better idea. If you want news that tells you what you want to hear, go tune in al-Jazeera. But if you want to listen to what the American news agencies have to say, and you don't like what they're saying, it could just possibly be that reality is what's not on your side, not a conspiracy of biased Jew-operated anti-Islamic infidel media.

12:21 - Ooooh.
http://talg.blogspot.com/2002_08_04_talg_archive.html#79890535

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In the responses to Tal G.'s link to the Clear Guidance message board yesterday, someone mentioned the thing about jihad really meaning simply "internal struggle".

Then someone named James said:

Of course Jihad means struggle. So does Kampf.


11:52 - Quick! Crank up the symbolism generator...

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Hey, guess what day I get my braces off!

I'll give you a hint: it's in mid-September, and it's a Wednesday.

10:48 - My what?

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As I was crossing the driveway heading for my car on the way to work this morning, a guy in a utility truck pulled up to the sidewalk.

"Hi! Are your mom and dad home?"

I must admit I was so taken aback that I can't remember what I said. Probably something like "Hhwhwaaaa?" Because he repeated it.

"Are your mom and dad at home?"

I'm 26. My hair is short, I'm wearing a Hawaiian shirt and a gold watch, I'm carrying an iBook and a couple of bills to pay, and I'm holding the keys to my suburbanite econo-sport wheelbox.

"I'm, uh, not-- no," is all I can come up with.

Something hits him. "Aah, are you the man of the house?"

"Well, I'm one of them..."

"You want your yard trimmed?"

I take his business card and tell him our yard is in the shower. I'm not home alone, nuh-uh, for reals.

I suppose I should be flattered and stuff, but... geez. What a freaky way to begin the day.

10:07 - You dipshits.

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Speaking of Ar-Rahman, someone sent a message through last night with the following pictures as attachments, as "evidence" that the Israelis are just as bad as the Nazis. "Sharon vs. Hitler," read the subject.





Ooh, yeah, it's exactly the same thing. I don't know why I wasn't totally convinced before. Such images of brutality.

(Yes, I know, this list is about preaching to the converted-- those to whom these pictures are incontrovertible proof of the parallel in the subject line.)

But doesn't anybody have the balls to question anything? Doesn't anyone have enough assurance to put this kind of position up against facts, or to approach it from a dissenting viewpoint? Or would such a thing be implicitly kufr?

"These pictures show that the Israelis are just like the Nazis." Uh huh. So let's see the pictures of Israeli soldiers lining up Palestinian civilians next to a pit and mowing them down with machine guns. Let's see the pictures of Israeli soldiers murdering little girls in their beds. Let's see the photos of the Israelis' concentration camps where they send the Palestinians en masse to be gassed. Oh, and while you're at it, show me some history with Jews blowing up German ice-cream parlors and shopping venues and commuter buses with suicide belts, killing grandmothers and babies and pregnant women, and then dancing in the streets of the Berlin and Warsaw ghettos, shooting guns in the air and praising Jehovah.

Then we'll talk.

Until then, shut the hell up.
Tuesday, August 6, 2002
02:39 - A Religion of Peace
http://www.lileks.com/bleats/archive/02/0802/080102.html#080702

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Children are savage little things. The jungle is in them, and the wilderness. Occasionally, one will come along in whom the jungle boils and screams, and with that one comes chaos. And with children, chaos is a thing of stones and blood.
Preacher, of course-- Allfather D'Aronique sadistically recalling to Starr the events of his own tormented childhood.

It's all I could think about while reading today's Bleat.

I saw the link to the message-board that Lileks is talking about, referred to in his usual emotionless and bewilderingly matter-of-fact way by Tal G. But I had an idea of what I might find there, and since I had no wish to spend the remainder of my workday fuming and seething, I didn't go and read it. It seems I made a good call, if only for the sake of my sanity. Lileks has taken the bullet of reading this stuff so we don't have to-- but we'd all better read it just the same, so we know what kind of primal savagery we're dealing with.

The thread is full of charming stuff; they talk about the joys of knifing Jews, and discuss the merits of a particular decapitate-the-infidel tape - who knew it was such a genre? It almost seems as if these guys trade decapitation tapes like l33t hackers swap warez...

There’s more. It’s lovely. Sample message topics: “Do Jews Drink Human Blood?” “Holocoust Never Happened!”

I’d have no interest in this website whatsoever were it not for three things:

1. When there’s a subculture out there ranking the best jihadi decapitation video, you’d best pay attention.

2. When a message board devoted to guidance for Islamic youth doesn’t delete the posts about stabbing Jews, you’d best pay attention.

3. This thread. As far as I can tell, the debate seems to be whether it’s a brother’s job to kill his sexually active sister, or the religious authority’s job.

It's a Bleat, so that means go read the whole thing.

What I find so sick and disheartening about all this is Islam is being treated by these kids as a carte blanche license for them to express-- not just without guilt, but with righteousness-- the kinds of savage and barbaric feelings of bloodlust that the rest of the world learned to rise above and leave behind many hundreds of years ago. These days, kids who want to work out their chainsaw-wielding aggressions go out and buy whatever hyper-violent video game has just hit the market, and they learn to separate such impulses from reality and the rules we live by in a healthy and self-determined way. But when there's an excuse like Islam for kids to latch onto-- one where the Law of Life flat-out encourages them to think in terms of hating infidels and killing Jews-- they're going to throw themselves into it headlong and lick up every drop of vitriol that it offers. And those are the foundational values that will inform these kids throughout the rest of their adult lives.

It's really small wonder where people like John Lindh come from-- the picture that militant Islam paints for bellicose, testosterone-pumped teenage boys is irresistible. It's like painting a naked woman on a big piece of butcher paper and then setting it up at the edge of a cliff; they're going to walk right through, drooling all the way. The evidence is right in front of us-- on this message board, and on the Ar-Rahman list I still seem to be on (where the latest discourse is from Muslim Americans pleading the others on the list to understand that the "vast majority" of Americans hate Bush and his policies, support the Palestinian cause and despise Israel, and will come to see the light of Islam if only the world gives us a chance).

As much as it might pain the students at clearguidance.com, American churches don’t give two figs for the subject of Islam one way or the other. It’s just not on their radar. There are no pained debates in church basements about how to act towards Muslim friends, or what to do when your friend’s sister comes over with a headscarf. As much as some would like to portray mainstream American religious belief as a Dangerous Ravening Force bent on establishing an Ashcroftian theocracy, most churches look inward. A dear friend of mine is part of a church-group mission to help the Truly Farked - she’s mentoring a down-and-out drug addict, helping her get on her feet. Is that addict a Christian? No idea. Doesn’t come up. Does my friend praise Jeeeeeesus every time she drops off meals or blankets for the addict? Irrelevant. The act is what matters. It’s the gift, not the wrapping.

Yes, yes, of course, I understand-- it's two entirely different ways of thinking. In the one world, religion is something you do as part of your normal day-to-day life; whereas in the other, day-to-day life is something you do as subordinate to religion, which defines all of existence. As part of a tradition in which I'm raised to consider the former to be far more natural, I can't properly understand the context or the motivation behind the latter.

But Tal G. never once has mused upon knifing a Palestinian baby. And he freely linked to the message board full of Muslim youths discussing doing exactly that to Jewish babies, and with hardly a comment by way of preamble or reaction.

I don't know what could possibly speak more succinctly than exactly that.

19:23 - Windows Dissatisfaction at an All-Time High
http://maccentral.macworld.com/news/0208/06.alternatives.php

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There are a number of articles floating around today about a report by The Yankee Group, which says that:

Apple's Macintosh has found a comfortable and committed niche among enterprise customers with sophisticated graphics and production departments. Linux, meanwhile, has gained a groundswell of support in the last three to four years due to its appeal as the "un-Windows" solution, according to Yankee Group senior analyst and Report author Laura DiDio.
    "Corporate user resentment and dissatisfaction with Microsoft and some of its practices are at an all-time high," DiDio said. A myriad of issues ranging from Microsoft's perceived monopolistic practices, hyperbolic marketing, ongoing security woes, and habitually slipping ship dates of major new product releases as well as confusion surrounding the overall .NET strategy have undermined corporate customer confidence. A recent joint survey of 1,500 corporations by Sunbelt Software, Inc. and the Yankee Group found that nearly 40% of the respondents were so outraged by Microsoft's new licensing scheme that they are actively seeking alternative products.
    "This cumulative dissatisfaction will not necessarily translate into corporate defections to rival operating systems. But it does open the door a crack and raises the possibility that Linux and Macintosh OS X can gain new footholds in an overwhelmingly Windows world," DiDio said.

You know, it would be one thing if there were not this general sense of unease in the corporate world-- if the only reason anybody used an alternative OS was because they were rich, crazy, or a relic of an earlier era. But that's not the case. People are finding new reasons to switch from Windows all the time. It's not just a fringe group of lunatics and geeks, it's a broad-based sense that there's something "dirty" about using Microsoft products-- like filling up at the gas station, surrounded by fumes, with the numbers ticking over and the signs everywhere warning about MTBE, it makes a person feel guilty as hell to do it, even if it's a necessity for life. It's a fairly strong feeling, it seems, in the business world-- and getting stronger.

A company can't shed its past-- or at least, it can't when it follows the normal laws of nature and business. Enron, if it had survived its bankruptcy, would never again be free of the buzzword-esque meaning its name had taken on, as a cautionary tale against creative bookkeeping. Ford and GM are still wrestling with the ghosts of their abysmal build quality from the 70s and early 80s. And Microsoft, having been brought up repeatedly before courts on charges of unfair and slimy business practices, technological plagiarism, piracy of intellectual property, and monopoly-- and finally being convicted of criminal monopolistic practices, before the whole case being unceremoniously dropped by the prosecution with no provocation other than a business-friendly administration in the White House all of a sudden-- is apparently not getting off scot free in the court of public opinion. People are beginning to align "Microsoft" with "evil" in their word-association inkblot tests; at long last, it's starting to take hold.

Maybe it has to do with whether there appears to be a visible and viable alternative available. It's amazing what people will put up with, ranting and fuming and swearing, as long as they don't actually have to do anything about it (or have the ability to do anything about it). It's just Windows. Nothin' you can do. Just reinstall and hope for the best. But perhaps now that there's buzz everywhere you turn about viable alternatives-- big companies making enterprise-class software for Linux, OS X whisperings coming from every direction, Apple Stores in the most crowded malls, geeks gaining an offbeat kind of sex appeal on the screen-- people are starting to move in ways they haven't before. It's okay not to like Microsoft now, because-- well, you're not going it alone.

Personally, I've always tried to be very picky and choosy about who gets my money, and I refuse to give it to any company with whose business ethics I disagree. Since about 1996, that's meant Microsoft has received not one red cent from me. (I'm sure their accountants are quaking in their boots.) And in that time, they've done nothing to change my mind about what kind of company they are-- in fact, they've only proven over and over and over that they're a company that I can't trust to pick out a shirt for me, much less to be the government-approved gatekeeper of my personal digital information. A company that's unapologetically unethical as well as criminally incompetent, undertaking a "Trusted Computing" initiative? Give me a break.

Now that there are all these things in the news-- Open Source is a public buzzword, Apple is in everybody's face, Microsoft is failing to convince anyone of its good intentions with .NET, and too many movies lately have picked up on the notion of dystopian futures in which a devilish Umbrella Corporation controls the production of everything from computers to laser satellites-- the general public and the business community are beginning to realize that calling Microsoft for what it is isn't anti-capitalism or Luddism... it's simply what a conscientious member of a society with a fragile and malleable new technological frontier should be asking of the companies leading the way into that frontier. It's making sure that the people we give our money to are seeing into the future of the world at large, not just their own bottom line.

17:56 - Now there's an idea...
http://www.techcentralstation.com/1051/techwrapper.jsp?PID=1051-250&CID=1051-080102A

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Via InstaPundit, here's another proposal for a WTC replacement that we could be proud of having built. It's a lot more subtle and quiet than the WTC2002 design, which (by the way) now has a petition/vote thing up so you can make your voice heard through some unclear means if you feel such a design is worth pursuing-- even if that means putting it at the extreme ostentatious end of the spectrum of possibilities.

But this one doesn't even necessarily have to be hideously tall. It's got real possibilities, and it's as symbolic as you could want without being pretentious or overbearing. It's a bit ungainly, perhaps, but these are just rough sketch ideas that the site has.

Hint: it's all about the roof.

17:50 - It's that time of year

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Today was a really nice day for motorcycling.

Just thought I'd mention that.

13:48 - Do You Believe in Love?
http://www.coldfury.com/Entries/00000262.html

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Something that has always, always befuddled me is how in movies, books, TV shows, pretty much anywhere-- there's the recurring plot element of a guy who's been dumped by his girlfriend/wife/female companion, who clearly cannot stand him anymore. And yet he spends the rest of his life trying to win her back. You know, the kind of thing that stalkers are made of. The plot of The War of the Roses. The idea that even though she clearly hates you, all you have to do-- in order to make her love you again-- is to capture her and force her to submit to your will.

What is it about this kind of situation that strips people of their sense of reality? Any sane man ought to be able to understand that if she wanted to be with him, she wouldn't be running and hiding and calling the police every time he comes near. This is not a woman who is teasing, who secretly "wants to be won over". This is a woman who wants the guy the hell out of her life, for good. If she says, "I want a divorce"-- that means she does not want to live with the guy anymore. It does not mean that the guy can reason and convince and bitch-slap his way into her heart again. What could make a guy think that love can be forced to exist? What would lead him to believe that having the companionship of one particular woman is so unique and important that he is willing to throw away all of his cherished morals and ethics and willingness to abide by law and common human decency, just to recapture it in some bizarre physical drug-like ritual-- even in the face of the obvious fact that she would rather kill him or herself than be in the same state with him?

... Okay, that's sort of a tangent from what I'd originally meant to say. But I suppose not, because it's pretty much the same ridiculous mindset that seems to drive what Mike "Cold Fury" Hendrix has begun calling the Axis of Feeble: the UN, the EU, and other international leftist bodies who seem willing to leap at even the smallest soiled handkerchief tossed from the window of a woman named Iraq who has been flinging rocks at them nonstop for the past ten years. (This is Mike's metaphor, not mine, but it works.)

Can't a guy ever learn to move on?

It's one thing to try to patch up a relationship where both parties honestly want to make it work, where both sides are willing to change and to make sacrifices and compromises and to alter their respective planned futures for the prospect of a symbiotic life that might grow to be more than the sum of its parts.

But it's quite another for one party to be continuously spurned, insulted, threatened, and attacked for years and years-- and not to ever reach the conclusion that the party doing the spurning might just be a lost cause, and not worth throwing everything away over at the first (and by no means sincere) sign that she might be softening.

What will it take to convince the world that some nations and some regimes just flat-out suck, and the onus is upon them to change-- not us? That it's their responsibility to make the unilateral concessions if they don't want to get blown up?

All I can think is that Kofi Annan has been watching too many chick-flicks lately, or something.
Monday, August 5, 2002
21:12 - A little sanity...

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On the World Affairs Council call-in show on NPR tonight, they had a member of the Spanish Parliament-- by the name, I think of Gustavo Aristide-- talking about the war on terrorism and related topics. In response to one seemingly axe-grinding caller's question about what the European stance was on America's holding terrorism suspects in Guantanamo and so on, he concluded the show with a statement to the following effect:

I think the Europeans and the Americans actually see eye-to-eye in a lot of ways, in the war on terror; and we have a lot of respect for America and its policies, as we would have for any such democracy. After all, America is one of the world's oldest democracies; and as I often tell my European friends, just as we would not expect America to interfere in European affairs, we should not presume to interfere in the internal affairs of the United States. Mutual respect is of great importance here.

Wow. I hadn't realized there were such opinions as this in European politics. If this guy is representative at all of the Spanish political landscape, I'm very encouraged that at least Spain will be someone we can count on not to go nuts on us when everything starts exploding.

14:00 - Charming...

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Just got this lovely piece of spam:

www.carder.org

This is the best resource where you can find out how to steal a credit cards from American jerks. Also you can purchase the cc's on our site. We sell American credit cards as well as European ones. We sell dumps of American credit cards. While using them you can be absolutely sure in positive results. We sell fake id's, US/UK/French passports, driver license and so on. We sell American citizents' SSN data which can be used to open an on-line banking account. We sell e-bay accounts. Drug-dealers you can count on, fake Euro and dollars at any time,brown suger, coke.... Any illegal thing that you ever wanted is on our site. We pay money all hosting companies and that's why no one would close it. Visit us and you will be satisfied.

www.carder.org

Can someone be more audacious?

11:32 - For Our Windows Friends
http://www.w2knews.com/rd/rd.cfm?id=020731BL-CNET

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Just in case anybody's an early-adopter out there and jumping on the just-released Windows 2000 Service Pack 3, well... if it isn't too late for you already, don't install it. A number of people in my office have already fallen prey.

W2KnewsFLASH: ~ Service Pack 3 for W2K! ~

But careful, it has not yet been officially announced, and the first problem reports are also already in. Some one just sent me an email with: "Downloaded and installed the final release of W2K SP3. After a clean install and a reboot I got the blue screen of death. Only after uninstalling a rare application from my desktop it worked OK."

W2K SP3 is at the moment we are writing this (Wednesday afternoon, July 31, 2002) not yet on the normal MS download site and not "acknowledged as existing for the wide world" so far. However, it was released yesterday to the MS Premier Support Customers and these are now testing with it. We have installed on a few W2K systems and it seems to be functioning correctly, but careful: TEST, TEST, TEST!. And always backup that system and make an Emergency Repair Disk. Also, always have enough disk space to allow a rollback in case of problems.

I don't know what conditions cause the conflict, but it's clearly something that's fairly widespread, considering how many people here at work are staring furiously at bootup screens and ScanDisk recovery processes. Too late to see the IT warning that went around admonishing us all not to install SP3, on pain of death.

I'm just sayin', is all.
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© Brian Tiemann