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April 2004 Archives

April 1, 2004

April Fools roundup

Google is hiring. In related news, according to CNN, despite the corny press release, Google's Gmail, which offers 1GB of mail storage, is real.

EFF and Department of Justice Merger

PC EZ-Bake Oven

Just about every article posted on Slashdot, including IF Quake

Speaking of Slashdot, Gadget Madness was Slashdotted

Microsoft Halts Plans for Xbox 2, Halo 2 in Jeopardy

AMD to drop Athlon 64 taxonomy for Intel's

Update:
Orkut is adding a random "desires" field to people's profiles. Mine is: "desires: take the red pill, get away with it." Here are some more:

- meta's: figure out how Cookie Monster eats all those cookies when he's only a puppet, blow my nose silently
- pqbon's: be the last woman on earth, find a laptop that fits on my lap
- remember that "charitable" is not some new type of furniture, grow another limb
- cause a wardrobe malfunction, win second place in a beauty contest (collect $10)
- learn that it's okay to share, surf the waves on Titan
- a +2 broadsword of slaying with +3 to dexterity and charisma, have as many friends in real life as on orkut
- speak at least twenty fictional languages, learn how to spell "Supercalifragilistic-".... whatever.
- be the last woman on earth, oo ee oo aa aa ting tang walla walla bing bang
- isolate 3 milligrams of 98.3% pure praseodymium , getting that energizer bunny to stop

Ask Jeeves in skivvies

ThinkGeek :: PC Hamster Case Mod

Leaked Episode III footage

and many, many more

WashingtonPost + RSS

I just noticed that the Washington Post has added RSS feeds. Excellent.
five more entries to go...

April 2, 2004

Woohoo

million billI got my first raise today. It wasn't very large, and everyone else in the company got one as well. In fact, someone else more accurately summed it up the raises as a cost-of-living-adjustment, but the main point is, after two and a half years and two jobs after graduating from college, I got my first raise!

Unintentionally interesting

Multiple people had been telling me about Neighbor Search, which lets you look up who contributed to what political campaign. You can either seach by name or you can input your zip code and see what turns up.

I found a particularly devious use of the tool: it happens to be a really good way of looking up the address of famous people. You also find out who they gave money to, as well as what they list their occupation as.

It all started when I started trolling through Los Altos donations and I noticed Andy Grove's name (head of Intel). I then tried the next Bay Area CEO that popped to mind -- Steve Jobs -- and was able to find his wife listed. Silicon Valley CEOs are kinda boring, though so I started typing in the names of famous actors and musicians. At first I was discouraged, until I started typing in the names of known politically active celebrities and came across Susan Sarandon. My first real celebrity, at last! Strangely, I couldn't find Tim Robbins, but perhaps his real name is different.

Typing in the names of various celebrities, as well as looking up their real names to search on, wasn't paying off as fast as much short attention span would allow. I needed to get more matches quickly. I thought to myself, "If I was a famous person, where would I live?" Bel Air, Beverly Hills 90210? Bingo! Between the zipcodes for the two areas the names came rolling in. Here's a partial list (a question mark means it's unclear if it's correct):

- Susan Sarandon
- Andy Grove
- Steve Jobs
- Jon Bon Jovi (?)
- Helen Hunt
- Johnnie Cochran
- Mary Steenbergen
- Mel Brooks
- Ted Danson
- Mike Myers
- Larry David
- Paul Reiser
- Mike McCready (Pearl Jam guitarist)
- Leonard Nimoy
- Melanie Griffith
- Michael Douglas (?)

Also, the job titles you see listed are often interesting. Here are some of the jobs titles from a single zip code search (90200):

- Executive, Warner Brothers
- Producer/CEO, Jim Henson Co
- Chairman/CEO, Warner Bros Entertainment Inc
- Executive Producer, Walt Disney Studios
- Producer, Sony Pictures
- Executive, Castle Rock
- Chairman, BMI Music
- President, Sony Work Group

Clearly, there are easier ways of getting the addresses of famous people. A $5 map to the stars probably gives a thousand times as many names as this, but for some reason I find this indirect method particularly entertaining.

April 3, 2004

Taxes done!

Another woohoo - for the second time in my life, I did my own taxes. Much easier the second time around with the tax program importing last year's data. I used TurboTax this year instead of TaxCut. I know that destroys geek cred, but I used TaxCut last year and it was a piece of crud.

Granted, TurboTax had the benefit of importing all of last year's TaxCut data to make my life easier, but it also seems that TurboTax does a real good job of marking stuff that you can skip over. TurboTax often marked pages with "these are not common," which was code-speak for "press next." This made things a lot faster and me a lot less paranoid when I had finished. Also, as far as I could tell, this years version had zero copy protection - no registration numbers, no nothing. My only complaint was that it took about an hour for it to download all of its updates, which was longer than it took to fill out my taxes.

April 4, 2004

Dilbert Cafe

A friend organized a trip out to Stacey's Cafe in Pleaston (about a 30 minute drive from Mountain View), which is owned by Scott Adams of Dilbert fame. It's not a Dilbert restaurant -- about the only Dilberty item is a small table near the front that has signed Dilbert dolls. It has more in common with a ritz-y Palo Alto or Los Altos restaurant.

There is a bit of Scott Adams influence, which comes from the menu. Next to each of the menu items there is a joke, sometimes amusing (Baked Brie: We tried to achieve world peace by renaming the French brie to Freedom Brie but nothing happened so we changed it back), sometimes a horrid pun (Chili Glazed Jumbo Prawns: If you have any left over you can sell it to the prawn shop), but generally entertaining. I spent my first ten minutes reading all the quips instead of trying to figure out what I was going to order. You can read the menu online. Be sure to check out the Date food section.

Between the five of us, we ordered two unique dishes. Three of us, including me, ordered the Gorgonzola Filet. It was tender and I liked it a lot. My only complaint was that there was not enough yummy gorgonzola to smear into the sauce. The other dish was the Pancetta Wrapped Chicken Picatta, which got good reviews.

Stacey's Cafe has two interesting policies. The first is that they will allow any customization, now matter how picky it is. The closest I came to testing this was ordering Ice Tea with no ice. This wasn't a strong test of the policy, even if it is a bit oxymoronic. The second policy, which comes from their date-friendly portion of the menu, is

If somehow, despite our precautions, you end up with a piece of pasta stuck to your forehead, our busboys will start a fist fight as a diversion while a server swoops in and knocks the offending pasta off your face.

We were so full after the main course that we didn't even have room for the tasty looking desserts.

April 5, 2004

Okay, now what?

I am composing this 1000th entry using my old paper notebook, which is something I did without much thinking, but now seems to bring things full circle. I wish I could offer you something spectacular that I have been saving for precisely this moment, but instead I'll bore you with retrospection.

Having reached 1000 entries, it feels like these last ten were the hardest. Most of my posts have been reflexive, without much thought (perhaps a bad thing), but for each of these last ten I put much more consideration into whether or not it was appropriate, or whether I was just trying to reach 1000 quicker. I am reminded of what was said during meta's marathon: it's the last 0.2 miles that gets you.

This is hardly an accomplishment of the same order. Instead of being evidence of hard work, pain, and endurance, it is more appropriate to call this a tribute to the copy machine, which I learned so much about, for most of this blog has been defined by the content of the Web that I stumbled upon and was amused by or related to.

When I first started, it was easy enough to post links from BoingBoing and Fark, but at some point I grew bored of this, and many of you also started reading the same sites. KoKoRo, Kottke, mefi, and others also entered in the mix, and when this seemed to be not enough, I went to the Technorati and Blogdex aggregators to follow what was interesting. Now I'm inundated with 200+ entries a day from 50+ sites (all organized nicely by Bloglines), and yet, with all of this increased material to choose from, I can feel my rate of posting declining.

I liken this to when I first discovered Slashdot: it was like I was in geek heaven. I read nearly every entry, as well as the comments. Soon the comments became predictable, and the story posts familiar. I used to joke with friends about writing a bot that would automatically generate the first 200 comments for any given entry. Nowadays I read perhaps two Slashdot posts per day with interest, and I rely on a friend of mine to send me funny comments that he often finds moderated down to -1.

This same effect is happening with many of the sites I read. There's only so many stories about amusing things done while drunk, stupid criminals, flip-flopping Bush policies, and geeky stuff done with rotten meat and legos that I can read before it becomes hard to distinguish. There's a phrase bantered about that there's seven original plots in novels (or something like that), and the same could probably be said of content on the Web, especially when reduced to a category + one-line summary on Fark.

There have been sites that I think will remain exceptions. Making Light regularly engrosses me with it's original content, even if the topic of discussion is how to find an agent in the book industry, which is knowledge that I will never put to good use. Neil Gaiman tosses anecdotes into his journal that make me yearn for the never-to-be-written Good Omens II. Just today he posted the best possible review one could ever write for Scooby Doo II. Udell and Zeldman continue to push the edge in XML and CSS, respectively, filling me with new ideas for pages and software to write. There's also Gizmodo and Engadget, which will probably drain my wallet with their content for some time to come.

There's also all of your sites. meta, who has as many blogs as I do; pqbon, founder of 1010 blog, without which I would have hit 1000 entries a long time ago :); Gadget-superhero bp, who made the whole movabletypo experiment possible; the movabletypo guinea pigs -- honeyfields, cshell, rcp, and cr -- who probably don't realize how much they contribute to my publishing experiment; Paul, who introduced me to Mythbusters and thus gets credit for many entries here, including his cool-but-disturbing federal/state budget calculators; the LJ folks -- allplainstapped (aka cr), snortykills, glynnenstein, davextreme, and cyndercalhoon -- who introduced me to the site that inspired the 1010 aggregator, give me a link to the East Coast, and keep the cost of kwcblog down; and the Xanga folks -- ginfiend, psychoshepard, and wdj -- who entertain me with entries that are sometimes often too disturbing to post here.

I don't think that I will ever give up this blog, though I do imagine that less and less of my energy will be focused on writing entries here. Already I've diverted some of my energies to xanga2mt, tripod2mt, movabletypo.net, and the 1010 aggregator that powers it. If there is anything that I am happy with as a result of blogging for this past year, it's been the 1010 aggregator. It appears that for some of you at least, it has created a sense of community among our disparate sites. I've heard some of you ask about people that you don't even know because of it, and someday you'll meet each other and awkwardly realize that you already know each other by your blog voices.

One of you has told me that the 1010 aggregator has encouraged your posting because it makes you feel that you have a common place to shout among other voices. For me, I think, it will have the opposite effect. The aggregator creates one voice out of many blogs, and now I don't feel like I have to be as loud. People visiting my site once a day won't be disappointed by the lack of new content; instead they can visit movabletypo.net, and when I have something to say, it will appear there alongside the rest of your entries.

Looking forward, I see more work on the 1010 aggregator to test a couple more ideas, an MTInNOut plugin, and fun with MovableType 3.0. Also, copying meta, I envision spending more of my energies commenting on the sites of people I don't know and finding amusement in this wherever I can. My voice may be quieter here, but hopefully my vanity will make its presence known online through other means.

Sweet candy

With meta posting about Japanese stationary, I felt this post on Japanese candy would be appropriate as well (click for full comic):
comic

Why the Millbrae station is failing

I read an article in the Palo Alto Daily News awhile back about how the Millbrae BART/Caltrain station isn't doing as well as planned. Let me elucidate my reasons for why I think it sucks with an example. I have aligned the schedules for the two systems side-by-side for riding into San Francisco in the afternoon/evening. As a reminder, you ride the Caltrain to the Millbrae station, and then switch over to the BART to ride into the city.

BART 5:18 Caltrain 5:20
BART 5:33
BART 5:48 Caltrain 5:50
BART 6:03 Caltrain 6:06
BART 6:18 Caltrain 6:35
BART 6:48 Caltrain 6:45 <- We have a winner!
BART 7:03 Caltrain 7:04

Does anyone else see this as downright malicious?

April 6, 2004

Style Invitational 540-547

As has become tradition for me, I went through the Style Invitational archives for the past two months and picked out contests/entries that amused me. Reading the archives in this manner only emphasizes to me how Chris Doyle, Russell Beland, and Tom Witte need to get a job; jobs that pay in cash, not bumper stickers.

Also, after sneaking his way into the Wired 40, it appears that bp has made it to the pages of the Washington Post as well (see below).

Week 547, in which entries had to pick a brand name that would be inappropriate when used in a different industry

BP is a good name for a gas company but a bad name for a honey company. (Elden Carnahan, Laurel)

Newman's Own is a good name for Paul Newman's brand of condiments, but it would not be a good name for his brand of condoms. (Russell Beland)

Chick-fil-A is a good name for a fast-food outlet but not for O.J. Simpson's next business venture. (Tom Witte)

The Library of Congress is probably too subtle to be a good name for an adult bookstore. (Russell Beland)

Rent-A-Wreck is a good name for a used-car rental company but a bad name for an escort service. (Marleen May, Rockville)

Week 544: Valentine's Day sentiments

The ark is astir on this Valentine's Day.
An animal's missing, I'm sorry to say.
A gerbil, perhaps, but that still needs confirming.
Noah, my sweetie-pooh, why are you squirming?

(Chris Doyle)

From Kermit to Miss Piggy:
My love for you is sugar-cured,
You stop my heart from achin'.
It's even easy being green
When I bring home the bacon.

(Phyllis Reinhard, East Fallowfield, Pa.)

Laura Bush to Jacques Chirac:
The courtly way you kissed my hand,
The media were all agog!
Though, Valentine, I always thought
The lady had to kiss the frog.

(Brendan Beary, Great Mills)

Week 543: the idea is a bit weak -- entries have to guess what the winning entry might be on a February 29, 2032.

Lead news story: Washington (AP) -- "no LOL 2day," sez prez, "bcz bird flu kilt 200k!!!!" (Jeff Brechlin, Potomac Falls)

Week 540: entries have to take a historical event and present it in the Rocky and Bullwinkle "A, or B" pun format.

c. 1200 B.C. : Trojan War: The Last Time I Saw Paris, or Beware of Gifts Bearing Greeks (Chris Doyle, Forsyth, Mo.)

1773: The Boston Tea Party: Of Tea I Fling, or Hurl Grey (Tom Witte, Montgomery Village)

1996: The Clinton-Lewinsky scandal: Secret Service, or Insert Bill Here (David Iscoe, Washington)

2003: U.S. handling of postwar Iraq: Peace-Poor Planning, or Throwing the Baby Out With the Baath Water (Chris Doyle, Forsyth, Mo.)

c. 900 B.C. : The judgment of Solomon: Split Decision, or Halving My Baby (Russell Beland, Springfield)

1066 -- The Norman Conquest: Saxon Violence, or Let Me Run This Bayeux (Brendan Beary, Great Mills)

April 7, 2004

Graceful MovableType-generated .htaccess solution

Here's a good feature request from a.wholelottanothing.org with solution by Brad Choate. Tools for future-proofing MT | A Whole Lotta Nothing

Background for Movable Type users who may not understand the problem being addressed: MovableType doesn't include the IDs for your entries when you export them. If your database crashes and you try to reload it using your last MovableType export, all of the URLs for your entries are likely to change. meta and I have both had this problem -- she had it when her BerkeleyDB got corrupted, I had it when I moved to mysql. (MySQL users are a little bit more protected because they can do a database dump instead of exporting from MT).

One way to guard against this is to modify your MT settings so that it uses better URLs for your entries. Instead of naming an entry "000123.html", which is based on the entry ID, you can name it "04_07_04.entry_title.html", which "future-proofs" it against database issues.

Woohoo!

I found the afikommen!

QotD: Food Babies

meta left this quote on rcp's blog. I find it touching:

You're much nicer than me. I would have punched him. I would have ordered a second entree and smeared it all over my face and clothing as I gorged myself. I would have made a point of ending the date carrying a full third trimester food baby.

Kool koi

Antipixel | Blog has one of the highest quality photo blogs that I've encountered. Not only does he manage to post several great photos every week, but he managed to take this excellent photo of koi with cherry blossoms. I've tried twice to take a good photo of koi, snapping several dozen photos each time, and I have yet to have a single photo that I am happy with. I'm jealously in awe:
koi

April 8, 2004

Rice appears

The spin coming out of Rice's appearance before the 9/11 commission appears to be mildly positive, or at the very least not negative. I did, however, enjoy this bit from a NYTimes article:

Mr. Ben-Veniste persisted, asking, "Isn't it a fact, Dr. Rice" that the presidential daily briefing on Aug. 6 "warned against possible attacks in this country?"

He ended the question by asking her to give the name of the memo, to which she replied: "I believe the title was `Bin Laden Determined to Attack Inside the United States.' "

Ms. Rice insisted, however, that the memo did not warn of attacks inside America. "It was historical information based on old reporting," she said. "There was no new threat information, and it did not, in fact, warn of any coming attacks inside the United States."

Kavalier and Clay + Campbell

book image

I'm posting this entry in the extended entry as it contains spoilers. It's not worth reading unless you've read the book. But if you've read the book, please visit and offer your thoughts on the question I pose.

Continue reading "Kavalier and Clay + Campbell" »

Book: Heart of Darkness

book image

This is an awesome book. I haven't read any of Conrad's other books, but they'll probably appear on my shelf soon. It was a bit hard to push Apocalypse Now out of my mind as I read this, but once I did I enjoyed symbolism and realism imbued from Conrad's own experience. I especially like the comparison between Marlow and Buddha: Buddha possesses knowledge of the path toward enlightenment; Marlow possesses knowledge of mankind's path toward baseness.

The version of the I read had copious end notes to help decode some of the allusions that Conrad makes, as well as point out where Conrad is including (and disguising) details from his own trip. It also has Conrad's diary from the journey, which I may get around to reading.

In the extended entry, I included my favorites excerpts from the book. Some come from near the end, so read no further if you want no spoilers.

Continue reading "Book: Heart of Darkness" »

Gmail screenshots

heerforce posted his initial comments on his new GMail account, which reminded me that I promised someone that I would post some screenshots of GMail, so here you go. It appears to have the same, clean UI you would expect from Google, without the ugliness of Yahoo! Google appears to have taken some interface cues from Photoshop Album (or they share a common ancestor). You can star e-mails, and instead of folders they have "labels." My guess is that you'll be able to apply multiple labels to a single e-mail, which feels much more appropriate for e-mail.

April 9, 2004

Tile puzzle

puzzleI'm only posting this b/c I got it on my first try with the minimum number of moves, and I like to brag:
No-Off by Nob Yoshigahara
(via BoingBoing)

We have a winner

Five people entered the free dinner contest to guess the date of my 1000th entry, which ended up occurring April 5th. Of those five, two people had the text of their original submission available, two didn't have the text but honestly submitted answers that weren't winners, and one was unrecoverable. (Note to self: when you have people submit entries for a contest that involve using MD5 to hash the entry, make sure that they know to save the original text of their entry :) ). This isn't the best result you want in a contest, but we can still announce an undisputed champion, a prognosticator supreme:

bp, with your guess of April 1st, you have won a free, all expense paid trip to a restaurant of your choice! My checking account salutes you!

Live from Iraq

There is a journal at LJ under the username of ginmar that you all should check out. If it is real, then it could fundamentally change the notion of battlefield reporting (among many other things). If it's not, then it's one of the most detailed hoaxes ever. I'm not directly linking to it, as that may be counterproductive at this point in time, though thousands are already reading it.

Update: here's a direct link. Now that really highly-ranked sites are linking to it theres not much point in not contributing a technorati point.

April 10, 2004

Balance the National Budget

Here's a little toy for Paul: A National Budget Simulation that challenges you to try and balance the federal budget.

April 11, 2004

J-Town

pagodaI made my first trip ever to Japantown, which seems rather long in coming. There were a couple of stores that made it a fun visit, including the bookstore and the convenience store, but overall it was a bit of a disappointment. Japantowns across the US are suffering as there are only three remaining (SF, San Jose, LA), and all of them are in California. I read an article once describing the problem, and one cause that was speculated was that Japanese ownership in Japantown was very low; unlike Chinese descendents and Chinatown, Japanese descendents have not been strongly been interested in maintaining their presence in Japantown. Regardless of causes, Japantown just doesn't feel very... Japanese. There wasn't much there that I couldn't buy at my local Nijiya grocery store or at a comic book store. Perhaps someone who is Chinese will reply to tell me that Chinatown doesn't feel very Chinese either :).

I cool thing that meta did there was get her cellphone engraved by a guy who sits at a table in front of the bookstore. I've posted photos of this in the extended entry. It only took about five minutes, and now the front of her phone is covered with little goldfish and the back has a large tiger. Very neat. We're wondering if the engraver will also iPods and laptops. I might be able to get some cool dragons swirling around the touch wheel.

I've also posted some more attempts at pagoda photos in the extended entry.

Continue reading "J-Town" »

April 12, 2004

Harry Potter

harry with broom
I spotted this statue about the same time another woman did. That woman proceeded to pose next to the statue and have her family snap pictures with her grabbing Harry's... broom... It was either meta or rcp that noted that children were present.

Evil cute II

mike gives me a good followup to Evil Cute I:
mhuang: http://www.hellocthulhu.com/
me: looks potentially demented
mhuang: yep
me: i look forward to their work
mhuang: yeah. me too...
me: though i think a tarecthulu might be more interesting
me: given that they never do explain how a bean-bag panda
me: is ever able to move
me: it's an invertebrate practically
me: so cthulu powers could explain it
me: give it red eyes and the ability to float around
mhuang: Lol. You mean like this? http://thor.mirtna.org/oddities/lookalikes/pics/cthulhu_tarepanda.jpg
me: man
me: where do you find this stuff?
me: that's unreal

tangent gripe: does iChat have any easy way of copying a log of a chat session? I can copy the text, but that leaves out the person's name, and if I make a logfile of it, only iChat can open it. It seems the only alternative is to make a screenshot, which is not very graceful, and requires image-editing if you want to disguise the screennames... Trillian and AIM on Windows do a good job of this on Windows, and AIM even preserves the text stylization.

Movie: Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

eternal-sunshine.jpgI knew I could count on metamanda to post first on Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, and do a better job of it than I will here. There are no spoilers here; I don't really discuss the themes of the movie, either. Mostly I'm just pointing out why I like this movie. If you want to find out about the basic premise and themes of the movie, I would suggest reading meta's entry first.

I liked this movie a lot. In terms of screenplay, I would rate it above Being John Malkovich and Adaptation, which are the only other Kaufman films I've seen. Both Being John Malkovich and Eternal Sunshine plunge the depths of the mind as separate subconscious worlds, but I felt that Eternal Sunshine took this plot device to much greater levels of mastery.

The scenes in the movie come across as having so much depth: within a single scene Kaufman will blend in elements from the conscious and subconscious storylines, bouncing seamlessly between the two and even having the two storylines co-exist. This interweaving builds both storylines simultaneously and creates so much interconnection that when dramatic points do occur, they feel very convincing and rewarding rather than conventional and predictable.

As for the other elements of the movie (i.e. the acting), I wouldn't nominate anyone other than the director for an award. The movie is presented by the director so well that I really can't conceive of trying to do it differently. The acting, though, is nothing to criticize nor praise. Carrey and Winslet are convincing in their roles, but nothing they did particularly impressed me.

Reading prep for the presidential races

This List Of Fallacious Arguments was a fun read, especially now that the presidential races are approaching full stride. I found it after I read an article pqbon posted from The New Republic that contained so many fallacious arguments that I felt I needed a proper guide with which to identify them.

The fallacious arguments guide includes this example of Reductio Ad Absurdum, which gave me a new found respect for Bertrand Russell:

Bertrand Russell, in a lecture on logic, mentioned that in the sense of material implication, a false proposition implies any proposition. A student raised his hand and said "In that case, given that 1 = 0, prove that you are the Pope". Russell immediately replied, "Add 1 to both sides of the equation: then we have 2 = 1. The set containing just me and the Pope has 2 members. But 2 = 1, so it has only 1 member; therefore, I am the Pope."

April 13, 2004

Goodbye Yahoo?

After an act of shameless begging on my part, Jason Shellen hooked me up with a GMail account. I will be posting some reviews as soon as I've gotten some significant use out of it. Step one will be setting up my mit e-mail to start forwarding it there as well.

As a favor to me, please do not send e-mail to my yahoo.com account. Use my alum.mit.edu account if you have that in your address books.

GMail initial thoughts

Here's are my initial thoughts on GMail, after having used it for a day. This isn't very long, but it at least has allowed me to explore some of the more prominent features of the service. I may post another review later on.

I currently have both Hotmail and Yahoo accounts, both of which I use actively for different purposes. In my summary, I will try to compare GMail to these services to see how it stacks up. I will emphasize here, and again later on, that GMail definitely is beta; some of the things I complain about here I expect to improve over time, and some of the things I praise here may get even cooler. With their Orkut venture, Google was clearly responsive to user feedback, so I would expect to see changes made to GMail as well.

The Really Good

Search:

The search interface is the nice, simple experience you would expect from Google. I assume it will be fast once I have more e-mails to search across, but I don't know for sure.

Organizing:

GMail allows you to assign as many "labels" as you want to a particular e-mail. These labels act like folders, except that an e-mail can have multiple labels, which is very useful. I found this type of organization very useful in Photoshop Album.

In general, there are three basic ways which you can organize a message, which seem nice:
1) archiving it, which removes it from the Inbox. (All e-mail is always available under the "All Mail" menu)
2) marking it with a star. I use this in Photoshop Album to mark my favorite photos quickly, and I imagine that it will be equally useful for e-mail messages. the semantic meaning of the star is entirely up to you. Starredd messages are then available under the "Starred" menu listing.
3) labelling the message. This is an important feature, and I'm surprised that I haven't seen an e-mail client that already does this. It would be very useful for work e-mail, where I deal with a lot of cross-project e-mail

You can also report a message as spam.

The User Interface

The UI is extremely fast. They use a lot of tricks previously seen on sites like Orkut and in Google's personalized search, such that you don't end up in the "Select -> Submit" cycle that dominates most Web-based e-mail clients. They also preload common pages, like the compose window, so that when you click on a link, the page often loads immediately. The result of these two optimizations is that you can actually organize and manipulate your e-mails with ease, which is something I can't say for either Yahoo or Hotmail.

There is also no clutter in GMail. Something like this doesn't show up on a feature checklist, but when you use it, it's something that you immediately appreciate. Hotmail, especially, has a clutter problem, and Yahoo has it to some extent as well. With Hotmail, I often have to pause for a few seconds to locate the button I want to press. With GMail, the non-essential parts of your screen are the nice, unobtrusive white we expect from Google.

This is how I would summarize the UIs of the three services:
- Hotmail tries to look like a client-side e-mail application, but behaves like a slow Web-based application
- Yahoo looks like a Web-based application, and is one
- GMail looks like a Web-based application, but behaves like a client-side application

Infinite Subaddresses

You can add "+whatever" to your e-mail address when you sign up for accounts. For example, when I sign up for an Amazon account, I can specify "kwc+spam@gmail.com" as my account name (NOTE: that is not my actual GMail account). This doesn't prevent spammers from stripping off the "+" part and figuring out your real address, but it does let you setup useful filtering rules so that when I do see e-mail with the kwc+spam To: address, I can file it appropriately.

Misc:

There is an autocomplete engine for typing in e-mail addresses. It matches either the name of the person, or the e-mail address. This is extremely useful and brings GMail on-par with e-mail applications like Outlook and Mozilla.

The spell checker on GMail is also friggin' awesome. It is far superior to Hotmail's and Yahoo's checkers, and I would even venture to say that it's faster and easier to use than my Mozilla Thunderbird spell checker. You click on "check spelling," and it instantly underlines the words that are mispelled. You can then click on those words and pop-down menu appears with spelling alternatives. I am amazed they were able to accomplish this so well.

The Good

There are a lot of little tidbits that GMail throws in that make you wonder why other services haven't done them. They are so simple, and show that Google put a bit of thought into the e-mail problem. Here are some examples:

- Google includes the first several lines of each message next to its title in the Inbox, which is useful for identifying spam or poorly labelled messages. (Hotmail and Yahoo do not do this)

- The login page is encrypted by default (Hotmail and Yahoo are not)

- no annoying redirects on URLs, unlike Hotmail which records every URL you click on in an e-mail message. (Hotmail also opens all URLs inside of a frame with a Hotmail banner on top, which makes it harder to bookmark).

Slightly Bad

It took me awhile to figure out how to delete individual e-mail messages instead of entire conversations, because the option for deleting individual messages is hidden under "more options," whereas the menu option for deleting an entire thread is in the pull-down menu that's always visible at the top of the message. I know that there philosophy is that you won't have to delete messages, but this disjoint + hidden menu fooled me for awhile.

It would also be nice if there were some import mechanisms. I don't blame them for not having import, but it would be nice. It's really not intersting testing GMail's search capabilities when I have so few messages to search across.

Bad

Problems with threading:

GMail relies on messages being organized by conversation/thread, but it doesn't provide you the tools for correcting it when it incorrectly groups messages correctly. I don't believe that GMail can possibly determine the e-mail thread correctly all of the time, and I've already found two cases where it does not.

(1) It is common practice for people to find an old e-mail with the recipient list they want, and use that to write a new e-mail. I tried this within GMail, and GMail grouped my reply in the original conversation thread, even though I completely changed the subject line.

(2) I forwarded an e-mail from Yahoo twice to my GMail account, because the first time I didn't include the forward the way I wanted to. GMail grouped these two messages together. This case isn't as bad as (1), but it is incorrect.
I'm hoping that in the future, final release of this, there are more tools to correct GMail when it's wrong.

Attachments:

It doesn't appear to handle e-mail forward attachments as well as I would like. I initially forwarded some e-mail from my Yahoo account to GMail using the "forward as attachment" setting, which is the default. Instead of displaying the text of the attachment in e-mail window, you have to click on the attachment, which then opens up a Notepad window, which, of course, doesn't display the e-mail message very well.

Contacts

The contacts UI is rather pathetic right now -- it doesn't appear that it got much lovin'. You can currently enter in a name, e-mail address, and notes per person. My Yahoo account has fields for phone numbers, addresses, etc..., and it also integrates this information into it's IM client. In my mind, at least, an address book and e-mail go hand-in-hand, and it's difficult for either to be great unless they are well integrated.

Bugs

GMail appears to lockup Mozilla's autocomplete sometimes. When this happens, I'm not really able to type anything. This isn't necessarily GMail's bug, but at the same time they need to be aware of it as it is frustrating to have to leave a page and come back again so that your cursor starts working again.

I've also had issues with using the star labelling mechanism. I would click on the star, but when I click on the Starred folder, there would be no messages.

I've also had issues with the Contacts folder. The field for entering in the name of the contact disappeared on me, and I had to leave the page and come back in order to re-enter the contact.

The spell checker doesn't check the title of the message.

Spam:

I currently have my e-mail forwarded to both GMail and my Yahoo mail. Yahoo count is currently 11/11 in combating spam, while GMail is 5/11. It was a bit of a surprise for me to start seeing so many spam e-mails again. (Note: My Yahoo account usually lets about two-five spams through a day on average).

I'm hoping the spam issue is simply an issue of training and tuning, and that as I use the account GMail's filters will improve. Yahoo has the benefit of millions of users, many of whom submit spam to them. GMail's users probably still number in the thousands.

The Unknown

I have yet to see a single ad on my own e-mails. The only e-mail that had any AdWords was the initial e-mail from the GMail Team. In that message, at least, the ads weren't the least bit distracting, and there was also a "relevant pages" list that I presume might come in handy, but can't say for certain.

There is also concern over GMail's privacy terms. Personally, I really don't care if they run their engine over my e-mails to show me text ads or to find spam, because the experience is still better than Hotmail and Yahoo, which displays gigantic ad banners. Also, I wonder why there isn't similar uproar over the fact that Hotmail tracks every single URL you click on in an e-mail message. A 1GB of e-mail per person is going to cost Google several dollars per person, and their answer for paying for that doesn't seem very offensive to me.

Summary

You have to see GMail in action to appreciate how fast it is, and how nice of an application it has the potential to be. The capabilities for searching and organizing e-mail is also something that I have longed for in an e-mail application. There are still some bugs, which are a result of its ambitious javascript, and I imagine that those will be fixed over time.

I anticipate that I will use GMail as my mail e-mail account in the near future, but for now there are some final bits of polishing that I need. There's no way of receiving notifications when you have new e-mail, for example. It would be nice if the Google Deskbar was modified to provide this sort of capability. The ability to import my Yahoo e-mail and address book will also be a stumbling block. If I forward my e-mails over from Yahoo, I will lose the sender information, as well as the temporal information of when I original received the e-mail. Perhaps if GMail improves it's parsing of forwarded messages, or allows me to extract the forwarded message as a separate message, this transition might be easier. For now, though, I see no easy way of transitioning.

Update: Please do not post requesting a GMail account. I do not work at Google, and I do not have any accounts to give.

Why Bush avoids press conferences

Three of my favorite excerpts from Bush's press conference last night. I've already done my really long entry for the day, so I've posted the excerpts in the extended entry. You can view a complete transcript here.

Continue reading "Why Bush avoids press conferences" »

April 14, 2004

One billion dollars

This is mind-blowing to me that I never knew this (this was mind-blowing to meta as well). I found this out while reading Neil Gaiman's Journal.

In the UK, a billion is 1,000,000,000,000 (i.e. 1012)
In the UK, a trillion is 1,000,000,000,000,000,000 (i.e. 1018)

April 15, 2004

Photo of the Day: Rock

photo

There is a store in J-Town that sells large rocks on stands. They are very pretty rocks, and some of them even look like Sumi-e paintings.

Concert: Mixmaster Mike

photo I saw Mixmaster Mike in SF last weekend. A friend got us in free, and you can't go wrong with a free show.

I would lump Mixmaster Mike and DJ Jazzy Jeff in a similar category, which is convenient for me, seeing as I've seen them both. Both are good DJs that got their celebrity by backing someone more famous, and they draw much of their fame from the late 80s and the 90s. The combination of these elements meant that both shows had a nostalgic view, and each featured climaxes of spinning skillz demonstrations. I remember being a little more impressed at DJ Jazzy Jeff's abilities, but perhaps time is playing tricks on my mind.

I'm not good at identifying pure electronic tracks, and there's this one hip-hop song that I keep hearing at so many shows and still don't know the name of, but what I think I remember was Mixmaster Mike having a good transition into Rage Against the Machine's "Know Your Enemy (?)", followed by a transition into Led Zeppelin's "Immigrant Song." There was also the obligatory Beastie Boys with "No Sleep Til Brooklyn (?)" and "Intergalatic Planetary," the latter of which he transitioned into Steve Miller's "Rock 'N Me."

meta reminds me that in addition to the hip-hop, white boy rap, classic rock, alternative rock, and electronica, there was also a bit of bangra thrown in.

(?) Indicates songs that I recognized at the time, but I'm now unsure about because I listened to my iPod on random the next morning and it messed with my memory.

Update: meta informs me that the song was probably "Scenario" off of Low End Theory by Tribe Called Quest, which has Busta Rhymes on it, which would explain why I've heard it before in concert (Busta Rhymes concert at MIT).

April 16, 2004

Movie: Punisher

Brian's Books hooked me up with a free screening pass, so me, bp, and pqbon all went to go see it. The free pass was good, because I really wasn't planning on paying to go see the movie, but I did want to see it in the hopes of washing the previous Punisher movie from my brain.

This Punisher movie was neither good nor bad, kinda lukewarm mediocre. It didn't really know what it wanted to be. It spent a really long time doing the whole origin story, and then it drifted for a really long time through a series of cheesy campy scenes where the Punisher doesn't really punish anybody (well, he does punish three people, but he wasn't actually seeking them out).

He sits around a bit, meets his dorky neighbors + one hot Rebecca Romijn-Stamos, and tries his best to annoy John Travolta. It didn't help that I think John Travolta is a terrible villain. Everytime I see him in a role like this, the movie automatically feels cheesy. For further reference, watch Broken Arrow. The movie also tried to throw comedy in during this long part, but it was the type of comedy that was of the "look at this funny goofy guy" sort, which I was puzzled to see in a Punisher movie.

The final paragraph is a semi-spoiler, don't read of if you've read enough or don't want more of the movie structure revealed.

Continue reading "Movie: Punisher" »

My site's Amazon page

This is sort of a strange cross-over. As a result of visit Joi Ito's site, I found out that Amazon is now putting up listings for Web pages using Alexa data. This listings follow most of the normal convention for books, musics, and other products, including info such as: * Traffic rank (instead of sales rank) * Contact Info * Thumbnail of your site * People who visit this site also visit * Ratings

The latter two are apparently only available to high-ranking sites. When your traffic rank is in the millions like mine, they only provide basic info. I can't seem to find an easy way to browse info for different Web sites, so it seems that the easiest way to get info on your site is to go to Amazon's A9 and type in the URL there, then click on "Site Info" next to the appropriate search result. * Amazon.com: website info: kwc.org * Amazon.com: website info: bOING bOING for an example of what a popular site looks like on Amazon

April 19, 2004

Movie: Kill Bill 2

04-19-04.killbill2.jpgThis movie was a lot of fun and continues the theme of sadistic punishments visited upon Uma Thurman. The Bride is a heroine that gets beat down again and again -- you have to wonder how she isn't a lump of scar tissue by now -- but Tarantino manages to make it highly entertaining, with plenty of black comedy and fun action.

Vol. 2 isn't as stylish as the first volume, nor is it nearly as bloody, but you get all the reward of the setup from the first movie as Tarantino reveals each of the plot secrets one-by-one. Judged as individual chapters, my favorite chapters were in the first movie; judged in their half-wise entirety, I thought that the second volume has the most to offer.

At Comic-Con, Tarantino mentioned that in some countries they might experiment with releasing the movie as individual chapters instead of two volumes. I think that this would have been very interesting and enjoyable, though I would have dreaded that many trips to the movie theater.

Side Note: One of the trailers was for "Tarantino Presents... Hero." Woohoo. I'm not sure I'll pay more to see the movie now that I already have it on DVD, but it's such a fun movie.

Update: saw this quote in the NYTimes: "Miramax is planning to release a half-dozen different DVD editions related to "Kill Bill." Ugh.

April 20, 2004

Bioscanning

It looks like the PARC-Scripps partnership is finally out in the open. If there was a previous announcement, I missed it. One of the higher-ups at Scripps gave a forum at PARC where he showed off some of the cool stuff they were doing, such as adding new codons + base pairs + tRNA, growing ears on the backs of mice, etc... (though he spoke with such glee that seemed a complete rejection of any social or moral implications of what they were doing). PARC has now been working with Scripps to figure out how to wonderful world of Xerox technology (printers, scanners, etc...) can be merged with the world of biotech to create interesting, and medically useful technologies. This CNET article talks about how PARC is working on tagging cancer cells and then using lasers to try and scan for them in the blood.

BTW - I think it's funny that CNET has to lead there article with "Xerox Palo Alto Research Center," followed in the next paragraph with, "The research center, known as PARC."

April 21, 2004

Movie: Musa

MusaIMDB users think that Musa is fantastic, but personally I thought this movie sucks. It's probably also fair to say that parakkum, honeyfields, and meta all thought it sucked as well. I picked this up in Chinatown with the help of rcp (who complained about not wanting to have to watch a movie with Chinese subtitles :) ) and I expected big things from a $60M war epic -- Hero was good, right?

Musa is a Korean war epic that takes place in China, where the band of Korean warriors struggle the make it safely back home. Along the way it manages to become a protect-the-princess flick, and then after that a confused mish-mash of other epics, like Seven Samurai. There's also probably more blood and dismemberings in this film than Kill Bill Vol. 1.

Instead of defining itself as an epic with its own character, Musa instead felt like a bunch of other epic movies edited together with Asian actors substituted in. The flow of the story is disruptive, the characters inconsistent, and suspension of disbelief becomes difficult when the character motivations are so thin.

As I mentioned at the start, though, apparently other people liked this movie, so if you want to borrow it from me, feel free; I don't think I'll be watching it again soon ;).

April 23, 2004

Good, good, bad

Lance Armstrong won Stage 3 of the Tour of Georgia, and followed that victory the same day with a Stage 4 time trial victory. The two victories vaulted him into first place with two stages to go (Armstrong finished with the peloton in Stage 5, not losing any real time). I'm hoping OLN has these.

With all this wonderful news coming in the buildup to the Tour de France, US Postal has officially decided to drop its sponsorship of the team after this year. I've already posted reasons as to why I think this is stupid. With all the athletes out there on charges for rape, murder, and doping, you don't drop sponsorship of a winner whose image is uniformly positive.

US Postal hinted that they might sponsor a different sport instead. It's hard to figure out what sport they could realistically sponsor -- the big four of baseball, football, hockey, and basketball are not very amenable to their type of sponsorship. The only sport that I can think of that they could sponsor in a similar manner would be Nascar, though I shudder to call it a sport.

meta's new groove

meta ran off to Europe before she had a chance to show it off to most folks, so I'll post some photos here so you can see it in its full brilliance. In order to stretch this out, here's a teaser. I'll post a full photo on Monday.

photo photo

Fur car

photo
The car is covered in fur with mounts on the hood for some sort of frame. My camera ran out of juice right when I took this photo, otherwise I would show more.

G-Mail + Safari

FYI for bp: Preliminary support for Safari in G-Mail

April 25, 2004

Style Invitational: 551

I have been waiting for the results of this contest: Have Google translate English text into another language and then back into English.

I never yet met a man that I didn't like. (From Spanish) I never satisfied a man yet with which I did not have pleasure. (Jeff Martin, Gaithersburg)

The U.S. government is composed of three branches: the executive, the legislative and the judicial.
(From French) The government of the United States is composed of three branches: the director, the legislature and the legal one. (Shawn Freeman, Vestavia Hills, Ala.)

I am the worst president elected ever.
(From French) I am the worst president never elected. (Kevin N. Mettinger, Warrenton)

Monica was a woman of loose morals.
(Portuguese) Monica was a flabby moral woman. (Chris Doyle, Forsyth, Mo.)

I'll be working my way back to you, babe, with a burning love inside.
(Portuguese) I will be working my back part to it in the way, dribble, with a burning hot love for inside. (Stephen Dudzik, Olney)

At Ford, quality is Job One.
(German) At Fords quality is job of one. (Andrew Dutton, Egg Harbor Township, N.J.)

A good man is hard to find.
(German) A good man is to be found hard. (Jeremy Eble, Silver Spring)

Herbert wanted to leave bachelorhood with a bang by throwing a stag party.
(French) Herbert wanted to leave the celibacy with a blow by throwing part of male. (Marjorie Bunday, Washington)

Hey, Jude, don't make it bad.
(German) Hey, do not form Jew, it bad. (Jeff Martin)

After an hour of exercise, you will feel stronger.
(French) After one hour of exercise, you will smell yourselves more extremely. (Pat Lark, Arlington)

April 26, 2004

First real test of GMail conversations

As I've said before, GMail can get conversation threads wrong when it inappropriately thinks that two messages are part of the same thread, but I had my first test of when it got it really right.

One of the mailing lists I'm on just got into a debate about Tillman and other war issues. At current count, the number of e-mails in the thread are 40, and likely to grow even further, but GMail is keeping them all nice and organized under one heading. I've previously had the 40 e-mail experience in both Yahoo! and threaded e-mail readers, and it's very easy to judge GMail as the winner. Other e-mail readers make it difficult to go back to what other people said without opening multiple windows and arranging them. GMail lets me view as many responses as I want in chronological order and keep others collapsed, all in the same window. It is also remarkably easy to read the thread as your are composing your response, as the composition window is inside of the thread.

Also, I initially selected "Reply" for one of my responses, but then decided halfway through that I really wanted "Reply All." GMail let me click on the Reply All button and added in the additional e-mail addresses without losing the text I had already written.

Armstrong wins Tour of Georgia

Armstrong won the Tour of Georgia, which will hopefully bode well for his sixth attempt at the Tour de France.

To my disappointment, it doesn't appear that OLN is broadcasting it, or if they are, they are waiting for some future date. Their other pro cycling broadcasts tend to rely on other organization's cameras, so perhaps that is the problem. This might also be a case of ABC having first rights. Time will tell.

I did manage to catch this year's Liege-Baston-Leige on OLN. I was hoping to see another Tyler Hamilton victory, but he and Floyd Landis disappeared towards the end after earlier attacks. Rebellin won his third classic in the same week, which is extremely remarkable. In the two races I saw, he managed to stick on the tail of Boogerd, who twice had to watch Rebellin scoot around him at the finish.

April 27, 2004

Orkut map

I'm sure stuff like this will cause another privacy stir, but you can get a geographical map of your friend network on Orkut. - Here's mine (red is friend, blue is friend-of-friend)

My map points how my Boston and Virginia friends aren't really represented at all; just a big gob of people in SF. Although it would be nice for these to fill in, the fact is that orkut has become rather boring, and I sign in about once a month nowadays (the same with Friendster).

meta points to dodgeball as an example of social network service that has some potential. Dodgeball lets you use SMS to announce to your social network where you currently are, which is nice at night when you're bar hopping. Having seen it in action, though, I'm willing to bet that it will go the way of the dodo; it's simply too annoying to be receiving text messages all the time and it's not clear to me that a cellphone has a rich enough of a UI to make it not annoying.

(via joi ito)

iPod headphones are dorky

It occurred to me, as I watched a person using an iPod walk by, that iPod headphones are dorky. The person walking by was already a Silicon-Valley-type, but as I think about it, I am quite certain that the iPod headphones make him look far more dorky than without.

They cry for attention; they're whiteness stands out and says, "Here I am, I have an iPod, please think I'm hip," which doesn't go unnoticed by muggers. The ear buds shaping is crude, and they don't even have great sound quality. The remote is also a piece of crap, and given that it can't actually clip to anything properly, it's only purpose in life seems to be to make the white cord even longer and more noticeable.

I'm sure all of this makes for great branding and fun advertisements for spoofing, but why, with such a great product to plug into, must they be so dorky?

Book: How Would You Move Mount Fuji

book image

This book is targeted at people who are preparing for an interview. Although it is a book about interview puzzles, the puzzles take up very little of the book. Most of the book is dedicated to interview guides (for the interviewer and interviewee) and the history of the logic puzzle, from its use in IQ tests to its adoption by job interviews. The history was a little bit interesting to me, mostly because it talked about Shockley, and it also happened to mention Jim Gibbons name, which made my world a little bit smaller. The main reason I picked this book up, though, is that I happen to like the puzzles that they give you during interviews, and I'm too lazy to find them on the Internet.

There are plenty of Fermi estimation questions in the book (the title of the book ends up being one). Fermi estimation questions ask you to estimate the value of something you don't know, like the number of redheads in Ireland. When I was in high school, we had an entire unit on this in chemistry. My chemistry teacher introduced the unit by telling the anecdote of Fermi at one of the nuclear bomb tests. As the shockwave approached, Fermi threw some scraps of paper into the air and watched their deflection. From this observation, he came up with an estimate of the megatons of the explosion that was reasonably accurate.

It's really not much use searching for examples of Fermi type problems; pretty much any type of estimation will serve as practice. Although it's nice to have estimation skills, as puzzles I find these a bit boring.

Another class of problems they have are design-type questions, where you get asked how you would design/build some sort of item. While I think these are good interview questions, as they allow the interviewer and interviewee to interact back and forth, I don't find them too interesting to solve in my freetime.

The last class of problems, logic problems with actual solutions, are the ones that I was shooting for when I got the book. There are some good ones in this book which made it worth the price of admission. Here are some of my favorites:
- 5 pirates have 100 gold coins to divide. The senior pirate proposes how to divide the coins, and the pirates then get to vote. If at least half of the pirates agree to the proposal, the division is made; otherwise the senior pirate is killed and the process is repeated. If you are the senior pirate (pirate #5), what should you propose?

- There is a village of 50 husband and wife couples. All of the husbands have been unfaithful. The wives know when men other than their own husbands have cheated, but they don't know about their own husbands fidelity. If a wife can prove that her husband has cheated, then she is required by law to kill him. Also, all of the wives are blessed with Spock-like logic skills. One day, the queen stops by and announces, "at least one of your husbands has been unfaithful." What happens?

- How many points are there on the globe where, by walking one mile south, one mile east, and one mile north, you reach the place where you started?

- Count in base negative 2 (doesn't have a "correct" solution)

- You have five jars of pills. Normal pills weight 10 grams, while poisonous pills weight 9 grams. One of the jars is filled with poisonous pills. Measuring once on a scale, how do you find the poison jar?

April 28, 2004

Blue Monday Wednesday

Here I thought I was going to be all clever. After I posted the teaser photos of meta's new do, I was going to wait until Monday, and then post full photos under the oh-so-clever title, "Blue Monday." Triple entendre, super bonus cleverness score, and I would be so proud of myself.

Life would not allow me that bit of blogging triumph, however. Alas, I'm afraid I lack skills of planning, and instead I write this pathetically rueful entry about my failed wit, and I now post the full photos in shame. Enjoy, as I now turn the focus of this entry back upon it's subject, meta's hair:

photo photo Open 24 Hours sign offered as blue reference point

Continue reading "Blue Monday Wednesday" »

Dangerous precedents

"Dangerous Precedent." Kinda sounds like the name of a big blockbuster flick, doesn't it? I usually reserve political posts for 1010, but I happened to find my thoughts echoed in this NYTimes editorial on the Bush/Cheney 9/11 Commission testimony:

The president's aides have also been arguing that making the event anything more than a "meeting" or informal discussion would establish a pattern that future chief executives would be forced to follow. That is true, in a way. If Mr. Bush or any of his successors have the tragic misfortune to be in command at a time when terrorists strike the country, killing thousands of innocent civilians, they should be expected to cooperate with the official investigations, and to do so in a way that puts their statements on the record and into history.

April 29, 2004

Robopolice

Jed sent me this cool-looking video of a robotic policeforce of the future:
The Embassy Visual Effects Inc.

(Pinky finger to lips) "e * 10^9 DOLLARS"

I read this Wired article, which gets into some of the more unconventional and humorous aspects of the Google filing, including the fact that the value of the offering is set at $2,718,281,828, i.e. $e*109. What dorks :).

You can read the filing yourself if you like.

April 30, 2004

Bowling for DCMA

For your Friday amusement (thanks Eric).

NOTE: content altered to protect the innocent and to correct formatting issues.
(Forwarded message)
Date: Fri, 30 Apr 2004 10:35:48 -0400 (EDT)
From:
Reply-To: stopit@MIT.EDU
To: namewithheld@MIT.EDU
Cc: namewithheld@MIT.EDU, stopit@MIT.EDU
Subject: Response Mandatory: Case ID 2427373 - Notice of Claimed
Infringement


To: (name withheld)
Cc: (name withheld) Network Contacts

MIT Stopit has received the complaint included below about the
computer using

MITnet address: 18.xx.xx.xx
Hostname: ----.MIT.EDU
MAC address: withheld

This appears to be registered to you. This complaint is from Motion
Picture Association of America, an agent for the copyright owners.

Unauthorized sharing of files of any kind violates MIT Policy and the
MITnet Rules of Use. It is also illegal, and can lead to legal action
against you by the copyright owners.

To avoid further sanctions, you must remove ALL unauthorized files
from your computer immediately. Please let us know when you have done
so so that we can inform the complainant that we've resolved the
situation.

Additional notices involving you or your computers may result in the
sanctions we describe at http://mit.edu/stopit/infringe-proc.html.

** If we do not hear from you within 48 hours, we are required by law to
remove your access to MIT's network until this matter is resolved.
Since this address is within a living group, our only option is to
disable network for your entire house.

Thanks for your prompt attention to this matter. If you have any
questions, please let us know!

(name withheld)
MIT Information Services & Technology
stopit@mit.edu

(Forwarded transaction)

Subject: Case ID 2427373 - Notice of Claimed Infringement
To: name withheld
From: MPA/A
Date: Thu, 29 Apr 2004 20:20:10 -0400

MOTION PICTURE ASSOCIATION OF AMERICA, INC.
15503 VENTURA BOULEVARD
ENCINO, CALIFORNIA 91436
UNITED STATES

Anti-Piracy Operations
PHONE: (818) 728 - 8127
Email: MPAA@copyright.org

Thursday, April 29, 2004

Name: (name withheld)
ISP: Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Via Fax/Email

RE: Unauthorized Use of Copyrighted Motion Pictures
Reference#: 2427373 (M)
IP Address: 18.xxx.xxx.xxx
Date of Infringement: 29 Apr 2004 03:14:5 EDT (GMT -0400)

Dear (Name Withheld):

The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) represents the following
motion picture production and distribution companies:

Columbia Pictures Industries, Inc.
Disney Enterprises, Inc.
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc.
Paramount Pictures Corporation
TriStar Pictures, Inc.
Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation
United Artists Pictures, Inc.
United Artists Corporation
Universal City Studios, LLLP
Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.

We have received information that, at the above noted date and time, the IP address 18.xxx.xxx.xxx was used to offer or to materially contribute to the offering of downloadable or streaming copies of copyrighted motion pictures. The title(s) offered included:

BOWLING FOR COLUMBINE

Specifically, we have identified the following material as infringing:

=================
Infringement Detail:
Infringing Work: BOWLING FOR COLUMBINE
Filepath: Bowling for Columbine.torrent/
Filename: Bowling for Columbine.avi
First Found: 29 Apr 2004 03:14:5 EDT (GMT -0400)
Last Found: 29 Apr 2004 03:14:5 EDT (GMT -0400)
Filesize: 642,430k
IP Address: 18.xxx.xxx.xxx
IP Port: 6883
Network: BTPeers
Protocol: BitTorrent


We believe this information should prove sufficient for you to locate the material complained about herein; however, please don't hesitate to contact us with any questions or clarification requests you may have.

The unauthorized distribution or public performance of copyrighted motion pictures constitutes copyright infringement under the Copyright Act, Title 17 United States Code Section 106(3)-(4). This conduct may also violate the laws of other countries, international law, and/or treaty obligations.

As the owner of this IP address, we request that you immediately do the following:

1. Remove or disable access to the material identified above, and
2. Take appropriate action against the account holder under your Abuse Policy/Terms of Service Agreement.

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Wish I thought of that

I've already given away my invites, but apparently they are now fetching $50+ on ebay. There's goes my chance at riches.
- Gmail accounts go up for bid | CNET News.com

Talk: Towards an Interoperability Framework for Collaborative Tools

Eugene Kim
Blue Oxen Associates

Kim popularized Engelbart's notion of purple numbers; purple numbers are a scheme for granular addressing of information. Purple-numbered versions of Cory Doctorow's and Lessig's newest books are online; the numbers allow you to create a link to any paragraph in the book.

The talk was much broader that just a discussion of purple numbering. It was a discussion of the broader notion of making software more interoperable with regards to linking and the inclusion of information from various sources. Kim also briefly touched upon trying to work on a shared modelling language for data that would facilitate this linking, as well as provide benefits in being able to make more intelligent uses of data.

My notes in the extended entry are fairly poor, as I wasn't too copious and the actual presentation was brief. I haven't read Kim's A Manifesto for Collaborative Tools yet, but that would probably be a better followup.

Continue reading "Talk: Towards an Interoperability Framework for Collaborative Tools" »