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
Eric S. Raymond
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Aziz Poonawalla
Corsair the Rational Pirate
.clue
Ravishing Light
Rosenblog
Cartago Delenda Est



Cars without compromise.





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Saturday, January 25, 2003
18:03 - I am getting very tired of this
http://www.cnn.com/2003/TECH/internet/01/25/internet.attack/index.html

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So I woke up this morning to hear that a lot of the Internet was tremendously slow, and that various sites were completely unusable, because of the new "SQL Slammer" worm. CNN says it doesn't actually break anything; it just wastes resources propagating from MS-SQL server to MS-SQL server.

Well, try telling that to Bank of America, as CapLion covered, or to the DNS root servers, or WorldCom. And though a cursory check reveals PacBell.net to be running Netscape Enterprise Server (which means we can conclude nothing about their database back-end), care to fathom a guess why when I checked today to see whether DSL would be available at the new house, the SQL query returned "Internal Server Error"?

Now, it's taken a supreme effort of will all day to keep from growling to myself that the %^#% companies in question deserve what they get for running MS-SQL. Don't blame the victim... don't blame the victim... don't blame the victim.

%^$%^ COMPANIES! YOU DESERVED WHAT YOU GOT!

Sorry, sorry... didn't mean that. It just slipped out.

Yes, yes, I know this kind of thing could have happened just as easily if everyone were running Linux and Apache and MySQL. However, there is something to be said for the fact that the vulnerability in question was published six months ago, and that there's a certain "just install it and go, Microsoft will take care of everything" mentality that goes with turnkey Windows-based server technology. Far too many people just plug the thing in and assume that's the end of their responsibilities as administrators. Nothing replaces genuine know-how on the part of the people in charge of the servers, and vigilance, and obsessive up-to-date-ness. And the more we trust Microsoft to take care of all the hard stuff for us, the more often this is going to happen, because people assume they don't have to be educated.

Friday, January 24, 2003
14:39 - Help! I'm trapped inside a fortune cookie factory!

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Josh Ellison forwards me this interesting screen shot from OS X's Print Center: "Perhaps someone at Apple is trying to get a message out..."


Those poor, poor people. Trapped in a sweatshop by a megalomaniac. Maybe we should start marching around Infinite Loop carrying signs: NO BLOOD FOR MACS... MICROSOFT IS THE VICTIM... 17" LAPTOPS BAD FOR CHILDREN AND OTHER LIVING THINGS...

'Course, I'm rather partial to this subliminal message, myself:




09:33 - Must... have... poster-sized... version...
http://www.penny-arcade.com/view.php3?date=2003-01-24&res=l

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In response to the apparent securing by somebody of the movie rights to Metroid.

Thursday, January 23, 2003
01:49 - Totally sweet
http://www.duke-kim.com/korean/

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Okay. So, like... you know the Real Ultimate Power site, the one about ninjas? The purpose of the ninja is to flip out and kill people. An Internet legend in its own time. You know the one.

Well, apparently, it now has spin-offs. Marcus sends me this link: The Official KOREAN GUY page-- part of the new and burgeoning Real Ultimate Power Network! After you finish giggling at the page itself, notice at the bottom that there are links to RealUltimateSororityGirls, RealUltimateBums, and RealUltimateLiquorStoreClerks. (None of these are remotely as funny, however. More's the pity.)

I don't think I've seen one of these proto-web-ring-things-that-got-away-from-people since the old Mr. T Ate My Balls phenomenon, which seemed to peak in around 1997...
Wednesday, January 22, 2003
22:11 - Distraction

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Well, my blogging might be curtailed a bit in the coming few days and weeks, because of this seemingly innocuous object:


(No, that's not me with the tape measure.)

Lots of paperwork, naturally... lots of juggling of sums with unaccustomed numbers of digits in them. It's already been an adventure. But it's officially begun now, and I'm about to discover just what kind of hell it is I've let myself in for.

With any luck at all, it'll be one of those really cool hells I've heard such tell about. So, here's hoping that luck holds out... like for the next thirty years.


15:42 - Any idealistic programmers in the house?

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You know what I'd like to see?

A music file format, similar to MP3 or AAC, with support for multiple channels and ID3 fields and so on... but more than that, and crucially, with support for embedded song lyrics.

Lyrics wouldn't take up more than a couple of kilobytes; they might even fit into a pre-existing ID3 field. But more than just bare text-- how about the ability to have the embedded lyrics keyed into the music on a word-for-word basis? At certain time-points in the song, it would have a callout to the textual lyric representation of whatever's being sung. Hello, follow-the-little-bouncing-ball audio players! Farewell, the era of not knowing what in the hell such-and-such an artist was singing about! It'd be the beginning of a whole new way of enjoying music, I think-- easily the equal of the advent of portable MP3 players as a milestone in music-consuming technology.

Now let's talk logistics. You know that the RIAA would be all over this; they already pounce on any large high-profile site that attempts to publish song lyrics from commercial music. And if there were to be some kind of centralized song-lyrics database, working like CDDB/Gracenote does for ID3 tags, you can be sure that it would only be available by the RIAA's blessing, and on a paid subscription basis at best.

But who says that has to be a fundamental part of the file format's vision? Users should be able to insert their own lyrics, and to mark their own keying points, using freely available software (or shareware) like what allows them to create MP3s today. Then the onus would be on the RIAA to step up to bat and provide centralized song data, and they wouldn't be starting from a position of power, either.

So the file format itself could be something totally open; call it "MP3-L" or something. And since there's nothing fundamentally illegal about the format, there's nothing to stop open-source developers from creating something like this, and no reason why it should have to be (for instance) Microsoft or Apple or Real that creates this standard. If this format were to become popular (and I think it does provide valuable functionality that many, including myself, would love to have available), then it'd be another chance for the various companies to show their respective attitudes toward open standards and the spirit of grass-roots development that would be behind this kind of idea in the first place.

Has this already been done? It quite possibly has, and I just haven't noticed. But if it hasn't, why not? Wouldn't it be cool?


15:26 - Really Mobile Computing
http://www.powerpage.org/story.lasso?newsID=10473

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First Lioness, and now this. Someone spread the word that Apple is dooomed, remember?
Thought you might like to know that the Honda Studio E concept vehicle has an LCD panel inside the back running Mac OS X. I've enclosed two images...

Inside, Studio E features front bench seating and two rear pod seats that flip down from the sides, yet store in a minimum amount of space when not in use. The mobile entertainment system uses a personal audio computer and can mix multiple inputs simultaneously, i.e. turntables and an effects generator or a more traditional guitar, drum machine or microphone could also be attached.

The personal audio computer has its own workstation with keyboard, mouse and a 17-inch liquid crystal display. To play to a larger crowd, a motorized 42-inch plasma screen rotates down from the ceiling and interfaces with the audio computer to display custom visual patterns in step with the music out the back of the vehicle, or it can play DVDs.
OS X on a 42-inch plasma screen in a hip neo-SUV, huh? Sounds like someone has some kind of demographic in mind, just possibly...

Still, this is a pretty sweet sighting.


09:40 - The Terrible Secret of Parody
http://littlegreenfootballs.com/weblog/?entry=5353

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There's got to be a lesson in here somewhere.

I wondered, when Charles Johnson posted this parody news item about the Arab League condemning the launching of Israeli Ilan Ramon into space (along with that drawing of the Earth from space by that kid who died in the Holocaust), whether he should have been just a bit more clear about the fact that it was a parody.
In Gaza City today, thousands of Palestinians marched in the streets, many firing weapons into the air. "With our blood and our souls, we will strike the orbital Zionists," chanted the protestors. Sheikh Yermani-Makr, appearing on Palestinian television, said, "It is not enough that the unbelievers have come on our land, but now they also take our heavens? How can this be permitted?" Palestinian youths also took to the streets in Nablus, chanting, "One! two! Where's the Arab manned space program?" In Nablus, three Palestinian youths were dragged through the streets by members of the al-Aksa Martyrs Brigade, who accused them of being "collaborators." Witnesses said that the teenagers were heard making positive statements about the American science fiction program Star Trek, several of whose main characters were played by Jewish actors. Reports of the teenagers having received "atomic wedgies" were unconfirmed.
After all, the human ability to fail to identify satire is something that's always amazed me. And it's all made the worse by the fact that so many news items these days have to carry disclaimers to assure readers that they're not parodies. Some things are just too ridiculous to take seriously-- even when they're true.

Case in point: Remember this?
July 24, 1997

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- No one expects to lose much sleep over it but, for the record, NASA has been sued by three men from Yemen for invading Mars.

The three say they own the red planet, and claim they have documents to prove it.

"We inherited the planet from our ancestors 3,000 years ago," they told the weekly Arabic-language newspaper Al-Thawri, which published the report Thursday.

Adam Ismail, Mustafa Khalil and Abdullah al-Umari filed the lawsuit in San'a, Yemen, and presented documents to the country's prosecutor general which they say proves their claim. There was no word on whether they had paid the appropriate inheritance taxes.
And no, that was not a parody. Which should go without saying-- it was, after all, on CNN.

But apparently people as highly placed as Israel's ambassador to France were taken in by Johnson's ruse, and are citing it in interviews for news columns.
But as usual the Arab League which during its history and since the day of its foundation never missed an occasion, to miss an occasion which would contribute to the peace, hastened to publish a press release whose its silly thing seems to have reached paroxysm and a level of stupidity which exceeds all its preceding records.
You know... much has been made about the advantages bloggers have over traditional media, in terms of speed of coverage, and willingness to tackle certain issues before the old media is able to overcome whatever bias it has in order to cover them properly. Bloggers had the Muhammad/Malvo story and Trent Lott's gaffe and countless other developments covered long before they resolved themselves in national headlines.

But this, I guess, would be the downside: people who can't tell the difference between bloggers and traditional media, mixed with bloggers who are perhaps a little more willing than they should be to post parody items with little in the way of disclaimers. Don't get me wrong-- I certainly don't want to see bloggers have to hold themselves to some kind of universal standard of journalistic integrity or whatever-- the lack of such a thing is what makes blogs what they are. But we all just have to bear in mind: there are idiots in the world, and easily confused people, and people who love to jump to conclusions. And there's no telling how high a misunderstanding might go-- or how much damage it might cause-- before someone figures it out.

Monday, January 20, 2003
23:03 - Seanbaby, Watching While You Sleep
http://www.thewavemag.com/pagegen.php?pagename=article&articleid=22887

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To help get this year started off right, the inimitable Seanbaby has been inspired to action (or maybe coerced), and now has a roundup of truly mind-bending frivolous lawsuits to guffaw at.
Eighteen years ago, John Duggan was convicted to life in prison for beating his wife to death. And how did the prison staff reward him for this? By putting his money into a zero-interest prison account! This wicked deed will not go unpunished, and with justice on his side, John is now suing the prison system for an undisclosed amount of money he feels he would have earned through proper investment. Despite the possible loss of funds, the prison is still finding new ways to improve conditions. In fact, right after the announcement of the lawsuit, the prison guards announced a new holiday, Free Knife For Everyone Except John Duggan Day.
This guy frightens me, he's so good.


12:19 - The Dell from Hell
http://www.theregister.co.uk/content/54/28913.html

(top)
(...I had to use the title from the e-mail from Kris that contained this link.)
The 15-year-old-girl in South Africa who suffered second-degree burns to her hands and thighs after her laptop exploded was using a Dell machine, it's been revealed.

iafrica.com reports that the laptop was a Dell Inspiron.

The story also quotes the girl's father as saying: "It would appear the battery pack had exploded and disintegrated and set fire to the room."
Ah, for the halcyon days when batteries only caught fire in lab conditions, and when that was the basis for Mac laptops getting a burning reputation.

Good ol' Perspirons...

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© Brian Tiemann