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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12/27/2004 -   1/2/2004
12/20/2004 - 12/26/2004
12/13/2004 - 12/19/2004
 12/6/2004 - 12/12/2004
11/29/2004 -  12/5/2004
11/22/2004 - 11/28/2004
11/15/2004 - 11/21/2004
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10/25/2004 - 10/31/2004
10/18/2004 - 10/24/2004
10/11/2004 - 10/17/2004
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12/29/2003 -   1/4/2004
12/22/2003 - 12/28/2003
12/15/2003 - 12/21/2003
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11/24/2003 - 11/30/2003
11/17/2003 - 11/23/2003
11/10/2003 - 11/16/2003
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10/27/2003 -  11/2/2003
10/20/2003 - 10/26/2003
10/13/2003 - 10/19/2003
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12/30/2002 -   1/5/2003
12/23/2002 - 12/29/2002
12/16/2002 - 12/22/2002
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11/25/2002 -  12/1/2002
11/18/2002 - 11/24/2002
11/11/2002 - 11/17/2002
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10/28/2002 -  11/3/2002
10/21/2002 - 10/27/2002
10/14/2002 - 10/20/2002
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  6/3/2002 -   6/9/2002
 5/27/2002 -   6/2/2002
 5/20/2002 -  5/26/2002
 5/13/2002 -  5/19/2002
  5/6/2002 -  5/12/2002
 4/29/2002 -   5/5/2002
 4/22/2002 -  4/28/2002
 4/15/2002 -  4/21/2002
  4/8/2002 -  4/14/2002
  4/1/2002 -   4/7/2002
 3/25/2002 -  3/31/2002
 3/18/2002 -  3/24/2002
 3/11/2002 -  3/17/2002
  3/4/2002 -  3/10/2002
 2/25/2002 -   3/3/2002
 2/18/2002 -  2/24/2002
 2/11/2002 -  2/17/2002
  2/4/2002 -  2/10/2002
 1/28/2002 -   2/3/2002
 1/21/2002 -  1/27/2002
 1/14/2002 -  1/20/2002
  1/7/2002 -  1/13/2002
12/31/2001 -   1/6/2002
12/24/2001 - 12/30/2001
12/17/2001 - 12/23/2001
Sunday, November 3, 2002
02:40 - Curses!

(top)
Betrayed by Cartoon Network!

Last week I was singing their praises, raising a paean to the heavens in thanks for their unaccountable largesse in putting everything-- everything-- on TV that I longed to see on a relaxed Sunday night. I was rendered giddy by the prospect of their showing Rejected by Dan Hertzfeldt. Oh, how I looked forward to it. Oh, how I did cue up my DV tape. It was so very cued-up. It was cued up so high I expected to see Al Capone doing the Charleston on top of it.

And tonight rolled around, and Home Movies was stomach-crampingly sarcastic as usual, and then it was 10:30, and right there on the digital cable schedule banner dealy it said Rejected...

...But that's not what came on. Oh no. Rejected is Denied! The Animation Nazi has spoken! Instead they showed The Lewis Lectures, a short starring apartment-dwelling dogs living the life they live when the humans are gone. I'd seen it before-- it's funny, yes, but it's not what they promised me, dammitalltohell! I mean... what happened? Was there a last-minute... injunction, or something? Did they discover at about 8:00 tonight that Bitter Films hadn't in fact given them permission to broadcast? Did somebody forget to clear it through legal first?

So now I'm all bummed. No Kelp Dip with extra sodium for me tonight.

And while I'm at it, why is it that Vlasic Original Dills are so much smaller all of a sudden? I thought it was just a bum batch for a while, but now they're all weeny little gherkins that amount to barely a mouthful, and they've been so for at least three or four months. True, granted, the old big pickles would always neatly anchor themselves into the shoulders of the jar, and when I managed to dislodge the first one from a freshly opened supply (unavoidably dousing myself in brine in the process of unscrewing the lid, because for some reason there's no dry way to open a jar of pickles, no matter how motionless or careful you are), the wedged first pickle would sproing out and spatter a fresh load of green salt water up the wall and/or my shirt. Yes, that problem now seems to be solved. But the price is too high! The pickles are now all too bloody small! We've made too great a sacrifice in the name of 1/2-as-neat broaching procedures. I'd gladly suffer a soaked shirt every week if I could have my Big Pickles back again.

... Uh, right.

"Brian Don't Bitch". It's a new Madonna song.

Time for a new workweek to get going, methinks. That'll get my head screwed back on. Homer sleep now.
Saturday, November 2, 2002
02:43 - You have got to be kidding me.
http://www.sonypictures.com/movies/eightcrazynights/

(top)
Adam Sandler... with his own new Christmas movie... that's animated... starring him as himself.

Who gave the world permission to go ga-ga while I was out?

Then again, I've never really been an Adam Sandler hater; I think he's pretty funny. (And he can even act for real, witness Punch Drunk Love.) And for what it's worth, this movie-- done by Sony Pictures, though what animation house is being used I'm not sure-- looks to be high in production quality. Hey, maybe it'll be good. And I'm a sucker for good animation-- any good animation.

Sorry-- this just caught me way the hell off guard here.

02:13 - Santa Cruz

(top)
I spent the day today down in Santa Cruz, sightseeing with my folks; seeing things I'd either never seen before, or hadn't seen in years.

While it's easy to tar Santa Cruz as a Berkeley with the added handicap of being isolated from civilization, it must be said that it's what I believe is the most California of all California towns. That is to say, it's a microcosm of the entire state; it has steep pine-clad hills, quaint homey town life, a huge volleyball beach with a Boardwalk that became prototypical of the whole franchise amusement park genre, a University, a beach highway, vast ocean and mountain views, a Monarch butterfly wintering ground, and a prime surfing destination. It's everything about California rolled into one thick doobie.

After lunch on the Wharf and a stop at the Monarch butterfly grounds at Natural Bridges (with the interesting interlude of a large brush fire breaking out behind the visitor center, which attracted two fire engines who had to string their hoses for a mile out to the nearest hydrant), we headed up to the UC Santa Cruz campus.

If this were 1994, and we'd toured this campus back then, I might very well have been so enamored with it I'd have directed all efforts toward going there. This is one of the most gorgeous college campuses I've ever seen. Sure, any Ivy League can boast fine architecture and genteel Dover Boys leisure life. But how many of them can do it on the side of a mountain, packed into a forest?


Picture a long, long, wide hillside-- no, a bigger one. Like, three miles on a side. Most of it's wide open, just bare grassland. And it's all on an incline that would make a bike trip from the bottom to the top just too tedious to want to do every day. Picture numerous clusters of "colleges" scattered throughout this road-encircled space, each one with its own unique architectural style and its own academic discipline, comprising both residential buildings and academic facilities (one such cluster is neo-natural slant-sided post-modernism, one is neat Northwestern peak-roofed white-trimmed Colonial, one is almost Plantation-like in style-- look at this virtual tour full of QTVRs for the visual record). All the signs are spotless, all the parking lots are tucked away behind hillocks and trees. But wait-- it gets better. The entire northern, uphill half of the campus area is sown directly into the forest primeval-- the roads wind up into thick redwood groves and deeply cleft canyons, and at the top of the main entrance road, in the northwest corner, there's a five-story parking structure-- all but hidden from view in among the trees. You look around and see other large buildings, built in such a way as to not disturb the trees that are already there (presumably at great cost-- this is massive construction at the top of a large hill, at the limit of human penetration into a large redwood forest, for crying-out-loud). It's like they built a city's downtown into the middle of a State Park forest, with no detriment to either's sensibility. I thought it was breathtakingly attractive.

Since everything is so far-flung, buses travel up and down the hill all day, ferrying students from residences to academic locations and gyms and student unions and the like. And naturally, because this is a liberal university in a liberal town, the campus' sentiments beat on you like the humidity in the South. But when you're driving down the hill and you break out of the treeline and are faced with a panoramic view of the Monterey bay and the surrounding hills, it's almost enough to offset any unpleasant peer pressure towards smirking cleverness of parallelism and moral equivalence and America-loathing. By its very character-- its architecture, its placement, its views, its playful layout, its mascot (the Banana Slug)-- it embodies more that's cool about living around here than almost any number of shrill banners hung from residence-hall balconies can negate.

...Almost.

Anyway, the Boardwalk is as much fun as I remember it-- it's still freely open to the public and each individual ride operates on tickets, rather than it being a single-massive-cover-charge with a big entrance gate like so many modern theme parks. The Giant Dipper is still great fun-- built in 1924, and still a thrill even by today's standards. And the "Neptune's Kingdom" arcade is full of as many 1980s-vintage classic games as of modern favorites. You'd almost forget they're having trouble keeping the place open these days.

Why they close it at 5PM, though, I'm afraid I don't understand.

00:02 - Never thought I'd see that again...

(top)
There's a That's My Bush marathon on tonight, post-midnight, on Comedy Central.

Is this another sign of the post-9/11 better-not-mock-Bush era being officially over already? I know the show was already canned by that time, but I always suspected it would have seen a swift disappearance if that were not the case. And I certainly didn't expect to see it return, even in the wee-hours slots.

21:18 - Good God!
http://www.miltonbradley.com/games/pl/page.viewproduct/product_id.9432/dn/default.cf

(top)

I just saw an ad for this game, which I don't believe I've ever seen before. Brand-new for the Christmas 2002 season, eh?

My question: how long will this thing last on the market before PETA raises its screeching voice against it and gets it removed?

Somehow I'm encouraged at the thought that they actually managed to create it, though, in this day and age-- that it got through all the levels of marketing and executive approval without being black-flagged. This isn't the age of Lawn Darts anymore, but still...

10:56 - Interesting if true

(top)
Forwarded to me by a friend:

Anyone remember this?? It was 1987! At an old news video of Lt. Col.
Oliver North testifying at the Iran-Contra hearings during the Reagan
Administration, there was Ollie in front of God and country, getting the
third degree, but what he said was stunning!
Some senator was drilling him -- "Did you not recently spend close to
$60,000 for a home security system?"
Ollie replied, "Yes, I did, Sir."
The senator continued, trying to get a laugh out of the audience,
"Isn't that just a little excessive?"
"No, sir," continued Ollie.
"No? And why not?" the senator asked.
"Because the lives of my family and I were threatened, sir."
"Threatened? By whom?" the senator questioned.
"By a terrorist, sir" Ollie answered.
"Terrorist? What terrorist could possibly scare you that much?"
"His name is Osama bin Laden, sir," Ollie replied.
At this point the senator tried to repeat the name, but couldn't
pronounce it, which most people back then probably couldn't. A couple of
people laughed at the attempt. Then the senator continued --"Why are you
so afraid of this man?" the senator asked.
"Because, sir, he is the most evil person alive that I know of," Ollie
answered.
"And what do you recommend we do about him?" asked the senator.
"Well, sir, if it was up to me, I would recommend that an assassin team
be formed to eliminate him and his men from the face of the earth."
The senator disagreed with this approach, and that was all that was
shown of the clip.

By the way, that senator was Al Gore

------------------------------------------------
Also: Terrorist pilot Mohammad Atta blew up a bus in Israel in 1986.
The Israelis captured, tried and imprisoned him. As part of the Oslo
agreement with the Palestinians in 1993, Israel had to agree to release
so-called "political prisoners". However, the Israelis would not release
any with blood on their hands. The American President at the time, Bill
Clinton, and his Secretary of State, Warren Christopher, "insisted" that
all prisoners be released. Thus Mohammad Atta was freed and eventually
thanked the US by flying an airplane into Tower One of the World Trade
Center. This was reported by many of the American TV networks at the
time that the terrorists were first identified. It was censored in the US
from all later reports. If you agree that the American public must be
made aware of this fact, pass this on.

Hoax? Legit? Bizarre variation on chain letter? I don't know. Anybody have any details?


UPDATE: Fiction, and fiction. Thanks to the many who mailed.


Friday, November 1, 2002
18:03 - Ooh, what a scary little monopoly!
http://money.cnn.com/2002/11/01/technology/microsoft_remedy/index.htm

(top)


So the trial is pretty much finished, then. And, in a far cry from what happened in the good ol' days of Thomas Penfield Jackson (who scared the bejeezus out of Microsoft's lawyers when he interrupted their stream of let's-confuse-the-poor-grayheaded-fogey techno-gibberish with "Counsel, I know what a DLL is"), Judge Kollar-Kotelly (did her parents meet in the registration line at college or something?) has handed out a nice Halloween treat to the obviously harmless little software trust. This was a sentencing, following a conviction. And the sentence?

The approved settlement requires Microsoft to disclose some sensitive technology to its rivals months earlier than the company and the Justice Department had proposed.

That's how a convicted criminal monopoly is punished these days.

Just think, though-- if the states hadn't raised hell, Microsoft's punishment would have been that it would have to give away copies of Windows to schools. For free! Which is about what it costs them! They'd have been punished by being forced to extend their hegemony into the education market at a deep discount beyond what they normally would have had to spend.

Oooh. Thank you, sir, may I please have another?


This result, which pretty effectively throws aside all the states' objections, transmits a clear message: All clear, Bill. You're good to go.


Here's what has really gotten under my skin throughout this whole thing:

Microsoft said it was reviewing the decision.

"The issues in this case are significant, not only for Microsoft but for the industry and consumers," spokesman Vivek Varma said. "We are committed to resolving these issues in a constructive way so that we can focus on long-term growth and innovation for consumers."

Every time there's been some development, some settlement proposal, some advancement of language in the case, Microsoft has been reported to be reviewing the situation. A few days later, they'd invariably come back and say, "Hmm, nope, nope... I don't think this is going to work. See, your Honor, this proposed solution would result in harm to Microsoft, and we can't allow that."

Maybe I'm severely missing something here, but since when the hell does the defendant on trial get to have a say in what punishment is meted out to it? Why does Microsoft get to veto a ruling against it? Why does their opinion matter one miniscule buzzing fuck?

At least the charade is over. It was never the DoJ's goal to dispense any kind of actual justice, not the timely kind, not the kind that would have mattered. Microsoft is way too entrenched in the world's economy and governmental machines by now for anyone to seriously consider touching them with a ten-foot pole. Instead, the idea has been to conduct an insanely long, drawn-out, and ultimately ineffectual public spectacle so as to give the people some sense that something is being done... while the only intent behind it was simply to run out the clock until the original issues upon which the original case was founded are rendered moot by the implacable march of technology.

I'm sure most people don't even know what the original charges were. And when told that it was about Microsoft's embroidering Internet Explorer inextricably into Windows 98 and shouldering aside Netscape, they're caught by surprise. What's Internet Explorer? is the usual reaction. Windows without the built-in web browser? Unthinkable! Yeah, no kidding.

This was never one of Microsoft's more serious crimes, in any case. This was simply a convenient and visible prop to use in order to get the bread-and-circuses tour moving. It always rankled with me that this was the best anybody could do-- not Microsoft's purchasing of IE from Spyglass, with the promise that Spyglass would be reimbursed with a percentage of all sales proceeds (and the omission of Microsoft's intent to give it away free). Not the outright theft of software from STAC, a company whose crown-jewel software was made a part of DOS for years, illegally-- but Microsoft kept the complaint stalled in court for as long as it took for STAC to go bankrupt with legal fees, upon which the disputed software became Microsoft's as spoils of war. Not the criminal negligence in the design of software like IIS, Outlook, and Windows itself, which has resulted in untold damage to companies over the years who stood there while their IT infrastructures crumbled and their servers were breached and their internal networks were flooded with spam and viruses and their mail systems stood inoperative for months on end, secure and confident that they had made the right decision. Nobody ever got fired for buying Microsoft!


But it's all over now, and we know now what the plan was all along.

Keep everybody distracted-- fool 'em into thinking the right thing will be done-- for as long as the illusion can be sustained. And then it'll be too late.



UPDATE: Yeah.



16:39 - The Thing That Should Not Be

(top)
This, taken from the body of a bounced e-mail message, is just so fundamentally wrong:

+ADwAIQ-DOCTYPE HTML PUBLIC +ACI--//W3C//DTD HTML 3.2//EN+ACIAPg- +ADw-HTML+AD4- +ADw-HEAD+AD4- +ADw-META HTTP-EQUIV+AD0AIg-Content-Type+ACI- CONTENT+AD0AIg-text/html+ADs- charset+AD0-utf-7+ACIAPg- +ADw-META NAME+AD0AIg-Generator+ACI- CONTENT+AD0AIg-MS Exchange Server version 6.0.6249.1+ACIAPg- +ADw-TITLE+AD4APA-/TITLE+AD4- +ADw-/HEAD+AD4- +ADw-BODY+AD4- +ADwAIQ--- Converted from text/plain format --+AD4- +ADw-BR+AD4- +ADw-P+AD4APA-FONT SIZE+AD0-2+AD4-Build of PolicyCenter pc1.3.0b24 completed for branch tag ps5+AF8-30.+ADw-BR+AD4- +ADw-BR+AD4- +ADw-BR+AD4- +ADw-/FONT+AD4- +ADw-/P+AD4- +ADw-/BODY+AD4- +ADw-/HTML+AD4-

(Emphasis mine.)

15:31 - W1ND0VVS 1Z TEH ST4ND4RD!!!!11``!`

(top)
There I was, down to the wire today, finishing up the last piece of testing before beta-qualification was approved today: a suite of printing tests from part of the Web interface for our product, using IE. On Windows, naturally, because that's what we support.

I'm regressing something backward through the last few versions of our product. Print in the current version: click, dialog, whirr, go get the page from the printer. Print in the previous version: click, dialog, whirr, go get the page from the printer. Print in the version before that: click....


Uh, click....


Right-click?

Oh look, there's the dialog. I wait another few minutes. (Yes, minutes.) Finally, the little printer icon shows up in the systray. Huh. That's odd; the printer icon usually takes all of three seconds to show up. And I wait.

And I wait.


The printer comes to life, but no paper spews forth.

I try right-clicking on the little printer icon, to try to bring up the printing monitor window. "1 document(s) pending for briant," it tells me confidently. Good, I'm so glad Microsoft took the time to handle singular and plural so elegantly. Eventually the print queue comes up. It's empty. It remains empty for a good three minutes; finally (after going through "Connecting" and "Initializing" phases), my document appears in the queue.

"24 bytes/120.4M," it says.

I watch as the 120.4M number continues to climb... slowly, sloooowly. Not the "24 bytes" part, mind you, no-- the total size. Yeah, that really fills me with warm fuzzies.

(The fact that I'm printing out a simple one-screen Web page, and that it thinks that amounts to 120 megabytes, doesn't do my heart good either.)

Right-clicking works, though. So I hit "Cancel", and it deletes the document from the queue.

Well, that was pointless, I think. So just to be safe, and to see if it might help, I decide to log out and log back in.

"Start->Log off briant". Uh... huh. Windows stares back at me with the expression of a cow chewing its cud in the middle of the most placid set of train tracks in Kansas. Okay... "Start->Shut down". Nothing.

Ctrl+Alt+Delete. Aha! There's the six-button menu thingy. "Log off!" I tell it. And it does! Fancy that.

I log back in; everything seems peachy. I connect again to the site and print. Annnnd... the same thing happens again. I'm in one of those backwards-talking slow-motion dreams where everything's in reversed grayscale. Nothing I do makes a difference. I click on one thing, and a menu pops up somewhere else on the screen. ToolTips on the icons in the systray pop up behind the taskbar. (How helpful.) And no printout is forthcoming, even after a patient ten minutes of waiting.

Okay, okay... I know where this wind is blowing. Time for.... a reboot-to-the-head.

Ctrl+Alt+Delete (the "Shut Down" in the Start menu still doesn't work), and hit the Shut Down button. I select Restart. It goes black, whirrs, and beeps.



$%^#%. %^$&^ $%#)_%^&()* &*^&*^^& ^&$%$. <deep breath> ^&*)&&*( $%^$ $%W#$%@# ^&%&* ^***(&^ *(())+_%&%!!!!


Why in the donkey-humping fuck is this the unquestioned standard operating system in business today?

This is, if you recall, the same machine whose upgrade-to-Win2K procedure, which ended up costing me an entire week's worth of productivity, caused me to harangue the company into springing for a new iMac back in February. Since that time, I've been blissfully free of these kinds of nightmares of technology gone horribly wrong, except for those times when I'm obliged to test the functionality of something under Windows. Then I approach the machine with a chair in one hand and a whip in the other, and getthejobdoneasquicklyaspossible so I can leap back to safety without getting unduly injured or slimed.

Well, today it looks like its revenge is complete. But it couldn't stop me from finishing the test suite. With the help of others' Windows machines, I was able to sign off, and the release was certified; my computer appears to have been the only casualty thus far. I made it back to the ledge without getting dragged under.

Here's my desk today. I think this says it all:



One of these boxes is not like the other; one of these boxes just doesn't belong...


Hint: it's not the one that's working.
Thursday, October 31, 2002
16:54 - Now you're talkin'.
http://www.israelnationalnews.com/news.php3?id=32749

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Via LGF and InstaPundit.

According to the Moskovski Komsomol newspaper, Russian security forces have decided to bury the terrorists from last's week's hostage siege wrapped in pig's skin. The aim is to deter potential Islamic terrorists from future attacks.

Shahidi (Jihad martyrs) believe by their nefarious acts that they ascend immediately to heaven. Using their beliefs against them, wrapping their corpses in 'unclean' pigskin prevents them from entering heaven for eternity.

At least some people understand the kind of playing field on which we're tussling. We would do well to learn from this example, particularly if the reaction is something new, something other than the age-old and feckless cycle of diplomacy from the civilized and shrieks of holy rage from the zealous. These two kinds of reactions feed off each other, because they're so mutually alien. But to fight zealotry on its own terms... now that's a novel idea.


UPDATE: Aziz has some clarifications. Well, drat.


10:47 - Electronics Recycling Porn
http://www.foxelectronics.com/webcam.htm

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Boy-- they have everything on the Web these days.


Fox Electronics, a Bay Area company specializing in the scrapping, recycling, refurbishment, and destruction of random electronic whatever-the-hell, has live webcams of its operations.

I saw this on a truck on the freeway the other day: LIVE WEBCAMS. I was sure it couldn't possibly mean what it seemed to mean. Half the truck's signage was about an electronics reclamation facility; the rest said LIVE WEBCAMS. It was like someone had just bought the truck and had only half-finished repainting the trailer walls; they still betrayed evidence of the truck's former life as... a conveyance for door-to-door Swedish masseuse delivery or something.

But no, it's actually just what it says. Live webcams... of the conveyor belts, assembly lines, warehouses, and shredder machines.

I sure hope they've registered with the proper rating agencies; I can't be held responsible for any damage to young sensibilities caused by following the link.
Wednesday, October 30, 2002
01:22 - Ingenious Spam of the Day

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I growl and I begrudge, but I have to admit that the following piece of spam is a work of evil art:



That's right... whatever spam-generating program does this, it goes out and crawls the web, finds random websites with e-mail addresses on them (like, oh, for instance, http://www.grotto11.com/Extensions.html), HTML-renders each such page, captures it into an image, composites it into a mosaic of other images so it appears to be displayed on a laptop screen, and then mails the composited shebang out to the owner of the website in question.

Ingenious. Masterful. Admirable in its simplicity and the elegance of its execution.

Why the hell aren't these efficacious people blessed with a sense of ethics and decency? Why can't they put their talents to some honorable use?

Ah well. They did use a TiBook.

17:21 - Paying for entertainment
http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=1781196896

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Here is what has got to be the most oddball thing I've ever seen on eBay-- that doesn't, I should clarify, involve vast amounts of money or pranks or gods selling the Earth to other gods or whatever.

Go check it out-- for a laugh, or to enjoy the involved and entertaining story, or (hey!) to bid on the item in question. 'Tis the season, after all. And while you're at it, ponder the asking price, the bids (which currently hover around $5), and the idea that whether you even receive the item or not, you've paid for the story-- and you know, I'll pay five bucks for a story.

You can create a story and sell it online. But the RIAA doesn't want you selling your music there.

13:30 - Well, there's a "Switch" for ya...
http://news.com.com/2100-1040-963901.html?tag=fd_top

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Remember when the iPod was first introduced-- how many people said it would never sell?

Then, when it sold really really really well (to Mac users and to on-the-edge Wintel users who were swayed via the iPod toward buying a Mac, or who were willing to put up with third-party software), some people said they still didn't consider it worthwhile unless there was a native Windows version?

Then, when Apple brought out a native Windows version, (a few) people still said it wouldn't sell purely because of the Apple name?

Well, apparently those voices are being drowned out by a clamor from Dell customers who want to by iPods with their Dell boxes, instead of the Archos and Creative MP3 players that Dell already carries.

So Dell is now going to be featuring the iPod on its own online storefront.

"Yep, Dell is reselling iPods," Apple said in a statement provided to CNET News.com. "We are delighted to offer our 5GB, 10GB and 20GB iPods for Windows through Dell's direct retail channel. iPod has been a big success to date, and we would like to make it even bigger."

Apparently the draw of Dell's online store for Apple and the lure of the iPod for Dell were enough to convince the bitter rivals to set aside their differences. The two companies compete especially hard in the education market, where Dell has moved ahead of the Mac maker to become the largest seller of computer gear to schools.

That's exactly what Apple needs. Whoever at Apple had the idea to do a killer-app-of-MP3-players, something that would outshine every competitor in every regard and become universally desirable to the entire spectrum of technology users, deserves some kind of medal. The iPod will make Apple a huge pile of money in the long run-- but more important still is the credibility boost that it gives the Apple logo.

One of the biggest problems Apple faces is in selling products to people who may have tried a Mac once, like back in the System 6 days or something (or perhaps an old Mac IIsi puttering in a friend's back room, while Pentium IIs were churning happily away in the front), and come away from the experience with a bad impression of Apple's engineering. "It was so slow," people commonly say. "And I couldn't figure out how to do anything-- there was no Start menu. What was I supposed to click on?" Over and over I've heard this story-- an unsupervised session with an ancient Mac led to a bad first impression, one that stuck with the person forever, cemented by the familiarity with which he returned to Windows.

But if Apple can slip a little something into everybody's pocket-- a piece of genuinely good technology that nobody can find immediate fault with, that works really well and instantly demonstrates its usefulness and value... they've won an immense hearts-and-minds victory. A spin of the dial will attenuate to nothing the endless chorus of sneers: "All Apple products are crap!" and "Macs are little candy-colored toy computers with tiny screens!" and "Macs can't be networked!" and "Can Macs do color yet?" Instead, people will associate the name Apple with good, useful products, and maybe-- just maybe-- be willing to try a modern Mac and see what the experience of using iTunes or making movies or working without a Registry or filename extensions can be like.

"We don't consider Apple a competitor across the full range of products," said Dell spokeswoman Mary Fad. "Maybe it would be odd if we had iMacs on the store (Web site)."

I must say, this does improve my opinion of Dell significantly.
Tuesday, October 29, 2002
19:37 - At least they're not calling it a "Blogged Filesystem"...
http://thinksecret.com/news/macosx10221.html

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I'm a bit late in getting to this one (the trailing bits of AR and the release cycle I'm in continue to prevent me from keeping up with the news); but it's still worth reporting.

There was some skepticism a couple of weeks ago when news was first broken that 10.2.2 would include a journaled version of HFS+. Daring Fireball, in particular, expressed doubts that it could be done-- and still remained skeptical several days later after being mailed by various people that such layering was indeed possible (for instance, in Linux's Ext3FS). His conclusion was that while it may be possible, it isn't likely that Apple would have it ready in time for 10.2.2.

Well, if this screenshot found at Think Secret is any indication, I'd say it's fairly certain:



Which is good for all involved. Hey, it's been said that if you keep wary and skeptical throughout life, all your surprises will be pleasant ones. Here's to pessimism! ;)


10:52 - Even the BMW stayed in the lines...

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10:03 - ...And they are illiterate
http://www.mikesilverman.com/2002_10_27_log_archive.html#85611407

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However moronic the far Left might appear to be, the far Right continues to have them beat six ways from Sunday. Even the worst of the Idiotarians, it must be said, generally exhibits a functional grasp of spelling, grammar, and logic.

Go see Mike Silverman's site for an example of the kind of thing he gets to put up with, and why it deserves no response more direct or serious than posting the whole thing for us all to see and point at and go Ha-ha!


Is it just me, or does it seem possible to write a Random Bigot Generator program for a website-- along the same lines as that Shakespearean Insult Generator thing? You specify a length and a level of vitriol, and it crams together a set of randomly selected clichés like "God made Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve" and mails it to the selected target? It shouldn't be too difficult-- and I have to imagine it's already been done, 'cause I don't know if much else can explain the lack of imagination or originality in these kinds of e-mails.
Monday, October 28, 2002
19:57 - "Because of me, they now have a warning!"

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Something I've been having to remind myself of lately is that whenever you see any disclaimer or warning on any ad anywhere on TV, in print, or anywhere, there is a lawsuit behind it. Or at least a complaint.

As my boss mentioned in passing, one of the best classic disclaimers he's seen is to pregnant women: Refrain from sexual intercourse after the water has broken. I mean, do people really have to be told these things? What, is the guy sitting there lecherously rubbing his chin, grunting, "Well, hmm-- just how frequent are those contractions, honey?"

It was with such things in my mind that I saw an ad come on TV for one of the new Transformers, which contained a disclaimer that for some odd reason I can't remember being a part of Transformers ads back in the heyday of the 80s. It said: Actual transformation time may vary.


...In other words, my brain was startled to realize, some oh-so-caring parent watched one of these ads with its trick time-lapse cappuccino-laced kid converting Optimus Prime from a truck into a command base in less than four seconds, bought it for her son, and then was confronted with the kid complaining that he couldn't transform it as fast as the kid on TV could. And (now this is the part that really gets to me) the parent, secure in her child's purity of heart and righteous indignation at the blatant false advertising of the uncaring corporation, complained to the company and got them to put up a disclaimer so future hapless moms wouldn't be entrapped so cruelly when their own time of trial came.

(Yes, I know this is all based on assumption. But if the story behind this particular case is off-base, I'd love to hear the true details. If they're in any way significantly different from what I'm guessing, I'll be very relieved indeed.)


What I want to know is, why couldn't this parent trust in her own ability to handle the kid's complaints herself? How is this any different from the Santa Claus situation? Yes, Dear, I'll get that letter in the mail to the North Pole right away! You'd think this would be an ideal time for her to impress upon the kid some concept of what reasonable humans should expect from reasonable companies selling reasonable products: Sometimes, Junior, we can't believe what we see on TV. Or at the very least: Yes, Dear, I'll handle that mean old toy company for you. Don't worry about a thing! I'll make sure they don't mislead any more innocent families like us! ... on the full understanding that the kid's enjoyment of the toy in its own right would outlast his attention span for frustration at the transformation speed, and with no actual intent to follow through on an endeavor that's both Quixotic and moronic. Wouldn't you?

And to think I thought it was bad when Barbie doll ads started foraying into CG animation, and they had to start peppering them with Dolls do not move by themselves...


UPDATE: Wouldn't I know it-- Hiker has the whole scoop on this. Ask him, and he'll also expound on the horrors of he current crop of Happy Meal Transformers-- robots in primary colors with big chunky parts, designed for kids of choking-hazard age-- as well as "Transformers Go-Bots", a name which strikes me in my sojourning-from-the-80s ignorance as a juxtaposition of concepts so cataclysmic as to risk creating an antimatter explosion merely by my typing them together. Oh, the things I've been missing out on...



19:49 - Cartoon Network, how do I love thee...

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Sunday nights are the highlight of my week. The "Adult Swim" lineup, particularly on Sunday when they trot out all the wacky and subversive stuff made by people who go through life with a constant giggle, is just so jam-packed with material I never thought I'd see on TV again that it completely restores my faith in The System to provide a conscientious palliative to discerning viewers. They know it isn't kids watching cartoons at midnight on Sunday; it's sarcastic twentysomethings would would rather watch anime with boobs or twisted neo-nostalgic romps that give new life to ill-begotten 1970s superheroes or the knife-edge artistry of Samurai Jack. It feels like someone who knows exactly what I want to watch is holding the levers on Moltar's control station and diverting a personalized stream of soma into my TV. It's never been better than this.

Freaky! Outtie! FREAKY! OUTTIE! FREAKY! OUTTIE! ...Ahem. Sorry; got carried away there.

And what should they report to be showing next Sunday night? Why, "Rejected", by Don Hertzfeldt, of all things. Yes, that bizarre, jiggly little five-minute doodle that you may have seen in godawful low-res WMV format floating around the net. I haven't been able to find a decent version of it, so the WMV is all I have. But Cartoon Network will be showing it next Sunday night. The preview ad, showing the guy with the not-so-silly hat, being beaten to death by the guys with the silly hats under the SILLY HATS ONLY sign, in glorious full resolution, made me break down and weep openly.

I'll be recording it this time, and making a decently-sized QuickTime out of it for future enjoyment on the plane or wherever I might happen to be when I'm in desperate need of a giggle.

And by the way, if you'll permit me to yank the stick hard-a-port for a bit: What the hell is it with QuickTime that makes people shun and hate it so much? I mean, when it has the following things going for it:

• The player application isn't the least bit gaudy-- no embedded ads, no freaky trippy color scheme, no large bulbous ameoboid shape with randomly ovoid buttons. Just the obvious controls, thank you very much.

• QuickTime is the only player that lets you copy a still frame from a playing movie and paste it using the Clipboard into another application. I mean, what the hell? How can people stand to use Real and WMP when they don't even deign to provide this basic functionality?

• Live back-and-forth scrubbing through any movie type, including (in QT6) live MPEG-4 streams. Real still doesn't let you do live scrubbing, and WMP's scrub bar is shoddy at best (it loses video sync if you move the window around).

• And for the content creators, some pretty damn fine codecs. Sorensen 3 isn't open, but it's the equal of DiVX;-) LOLOLOL OMG J00 GET DA 1 WIZ BRITN3Y SP34ARz NAKED B00B!!1!!``` any day of the week, and it also uses MPEG-4 natively, and is the flagship platform for that codec. Yet people still stick to Real and Windows Media, for reasons that are unclear to me. C'mon, guys, $30 gets you a complete content creation suite, and the broadcaster is free. And cross-platform.

And there's plenty more stuff about it that's subjective. Whether on Windows or the Mac, QuickTime just makes me feel like I'm a lot more in control of what I'm watching. As far as downsides go, though, this bullet point seems to trump all foregoing line-items:

• It's made by Apple.

Shock and horror! Can't have that!

Now that QuickTime has been largely crowded out in the Internet data pool by MPEGs and WMVs/AVIs (and even .MSWMM files, from Windows Movie Maker, which WMP can't read, for God's sake), I'm forced to conclude that for no good reason at all, we're now going to be forced to live with video-handling systems that are far, far less controllable and integrated into everything than what we could have had.

Ah well. At the very least I'll be using it for my own content creation and personal re-encoding purposes. It works bloody well, and I can copy a frame out of an existing movie and copy it into Preview so I can save a thumbnail JPEG for it anywhere I choose.

Urrg. Sorry. Just one too many WMVs getting uploaded into the art archive, which I can't play back accurately or copy a frame out of. But that's the Way of the Future! Get with the program, Brian!

Sheesh.
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