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June 2004 Archives

June 1, 2004

Cobh

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Known for being the last port of call for both the Lusitania and Titanic, Cobh seemed to me like a beautiful, but dying, seaside town. The main part of town is located on a steep hill that runs down the shoreline, with a large cathedral halfway up the hill that stands over the town. Along the shore there are numerous shops, but many are out of business and their fascades are falling apart. Nevertheless, the lodging that we wanted was full, so we ended up continuing onto Cork instead.

The photo above is actually taken just outside of Cobh, on the north side of the small island that the town sits on. The tower is one of many, many ruins that one sees as you drive around Ireland.

Cobh Photo Gallery (10 photos)

June 2, 2004

Ring of Kerry

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The Ring of Kerry is really nice. It's like the Hane Coast of Maui, but without the tropical rain forests, and little easier to drive, which I guess makes it not that much like the Hane Coast, but I'll stick to my analogy.

The ring takes you around the Kerry peninsula, occassionally passing through small towns, but for the most part large farm fields with sheep, hills, mountains, and coastline. While we were pulled off on the side of the road to take some pictures and old Irish guy appeared to chat with us about the poor quality of the Kerry soil. After we got back into the car we looked around to see where the old man had gotten off to and was gone, *poof*.

We stopped for a bit at a beautiful beach cove, which, continuing the tropical analogies, was like a island beach, but with colder water. There are some really nice photos in the photo gallery.

There are also some nice photos from a hill we climbed about halfway around the peninsula. There was a large parking lot, just waiting to trap tourists and their tour buses. meta and I went up a large hill adjacent to the lot in order to escape the throngs and get a better view. We could still hear the Wild Rover on accordian, but it was otherwise peaceful.

Ring of Kerry Photo Gallery (57 photos)

Continue reading "Ring of Kerry" »

Cork to Kilkee

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We had a little trouble navigating out of Cork in the morning, but we eventually made it on our way to the Ring of Kerry. You can tell almost immediately when you enter into Kerry County. Immediately you're confronted with large mountains/hills made of of rock that undulate up into the sky. It was also the first place that we started encountering sheep.

The Ring of Kerry was even more spectacular, and we made good time around the loop and back up north towards the ferry across the Shannon that would take us into Kilrush. From there it was a quick drive into Kilkee, where we stayed the night.

Related entries:
- Ring of Kerry
- Ferry
- Kilkee

The photos in this gallery are mostly taken while driving, so the quality is not great. However, you should get a good idea for some of the landscape there, and there is an adorable lamb.

Kerry Drive-by Photo Gallery (14 photos)

Ferry to Kilrush

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We took the ferry from Tarbert to Kilrush, which had many beautiful views of the Shannon River. When we pulled up to the ferry a guy with a donkey and pony towing a janky cart were trying to board the ferry. Sadly, we were denied the entertainment of their company, and we were left wondering how one would circumnavigate the Shannon River with a donkey and pony cart.

A less interesting form of entertainment was provided by a crow that spotted meta and her tea biscuits and began following her around the ship.

Ferry to Kilrush Photo Gallery (16 photos)

Kilkee

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We got through the Ring of Kerry faster than we had anticipated, so we made it up to Kilkee and stopped there. It's on the southern half of the peninsula that the Cliffs of Moher are located on, and we wanted to be within striking distance.

West Clare County is probably the Irish equivalent of Cape Cod -- it's where all the wealthy Irish go to vacation. Kilkee itself is your typical resort town, but we visited midweek on an off-week (apparently the upcoming bank holiday weekend was going to be a popular weekend).

My major photographic endeavor was to try and capture the sunset along the Kilkee beach. When I embarked on this plan, I had estimated only 30 minutes until sunset. meta had estimated an hour, and it turns out that she was far closer. In addition to having to wait out on the beach much longer than I had planned, the clouds started moving in from the west and the sunset was completely blocked. I did, though, managed to snap quite a few photos that I'm fond of, even without sunset bonus points.

Kilkee Photo Gallery (40 photos)

Selected favorites are in the extended entry.

Continue reading "Kilkee" »

June 3, 2004

Galway

We are now in Galway, back within the reaches of the Internet, having travelled from Kilkee this morning (your typical beach-side resort town), past the Cliffs of Moher, through the Burren, and a brief stop in tiny musical Doolin. The Burren was really cool; it's might be best described as driving through a giant rock quarry in the shape of large hills. The Irish architecture makes much more sense having seen where all the rocks come from.

Yesterday we drove from Cork and around the Ring of Kerry, which was beautiful. It is the Irish version of Maui's Hane Coast, though the roads are *slightly* more navigable. We even found a nice sandy beach and relaxed for a bit before we made it to a lookout point from which you could see both sides of the peninsula.

Having a rental car is nice, and meta is adapting the left-side driving experience rather quickly, though we haven't quite picked up any good Irish road-rage insults to shout at other cars yet. The roads here are about two cars wide, so in the passenger seat I have the constant sensation of being just about to graze a parked car or run into a hedge; luckily this has only happened a couple of times, with only minor scrapes on hubcaps and side-view mirrors to show.

If anyone wants me to pick them up Irish trinkets, speak now or forever hold your peace. There is standard tourist fare, including Irish pins, family crests, Celtic designs, Guinness goods, and stuff in the color green. Otherwise, everything else here is about the same as what you'd get in the US, but with the poor exchange rate about 1.5 - 2x as expensive.

I'll have plenty of pictures to post when I get back. My current count is somewhere between 300-400 photos I think. The iPod and Belkin reader are performing like champs. Sadly, my only descriptive photo of the Cliffs of Moher are on a postcard; my photos are a spectacular gray fog.

Doolin

I don't have much to say about Doolin. We visited the Lower Village while were there, not realizing that there was a second village about a mile away. The Lower Village was quite tiny, containing a single pub (O'Connors) and about five or so tourist-oriented shops. Given that Doolin only has about two hundred residents, the other village probably wasn't any larger.

Given that Doolin is famous for its traditional music performances, meta picked up a Dubliners CD while were there, and due to the poor quality of Irish radio, the CD effectively became the soundtrack to the rest of our vacation.

We stopped for a pint at O'Connors, but it was the middle of the afternoon. Unfortunately we had to jet to Galway so we didn't get to listen to merry trad music.

The photo gallery is about as large as Doolin is. I failed to snap a photo that captured the entire Lower Village, which would have been quite easy, but I did snap two photos of a rusty bike, which I think may be one of the most photographed bikes in Ireland, given that I saw two other people photograph it in ten-or-so minutes.

Doolin Photo Gallery (4 photos)

Spellbound

This is for all of you who watched Spellbound: Spelling bee champ survives 'autochthonous'

About feking time!

Fek appears to be the Irish equivalent of friggin, but perhaps its more offensive, but they can say it on the radio, and one farm we passed by had "FEKOFF CROWS" painted on some barrels.

I use it now because I surfed over to CNN and saw that Tenet resigned today. I don't have anything against Tenet himself, but the purpose of an executive is to represent accountability for their organization, and Tenet presided over two major intelligence failures in US history: one that led to us being attacked, and the other being a case of not-so-"slam dunk" intel that led to us attacking another nation. I would rather see administration officials doing "superb" jobs be held accountable instead, but this will have to do for now.

Congrats Will and Tonya

Our Weekend...

It's romantic that two people could come together so long ago, be broken apart forcibly, go their separate ways, and then over the course of time find their lives pull back together again.

On the selfish side, I wish there was a betting pool on this one. I think I could've won :).

Cliffs of Moher

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We had stayed in Kilkee to the south so that we would be able to get to the Cliffs of Moher easily, but the morning fog in Kilkee didn't bode well for us. As you can tell from the photos, I couldn't even make out the outline of the cliffs; the only good photo I got is the tower above, which overlooks the cliffs.

We each bought a postcard of what the cliffs would have looked like had we been there, content that if the weather had been better, the view would have been spectacular. If you search Google images, you yourself might agree, and from the comfort of your own home, have about the same quality of experience we had ;).

As a consolation, I think they should sell at least one postcard that's all white.

Cliffs of Moher Photo Gallery (4 photos)

The Burren

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The Burren is awesome; for its sheer uniqueness it ranks highly on the places I visited. It's like being in a gigantic quarry. The hills here look almost man-made, as if someone kept stacking rocks up and up for several generations.

The Burren is also a key to understanding Irish architecture. The numerous stone walls, circle forts, and castles make much more sense when you see that the Irish could pretty much pull a cart up to the hill, cut some large stones, and carry them away.

We visited one megalithic structure in the Burren, Poulnabrone tomb, which is popular postcard photograph. Looking at the photos beforehand, I had the impression that the tomb was much larger and would be visible from a mile away. As it turns out, its barely larger than a person, and wouldn't be worth visiting if the rest of the Burren weren't so darn cool.

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The photo gallery contains numerous photos, including some drive-by ruins we saw on the way out and a dog riding on a tractor.

The Burren Photo Gallery (60 photos)

June 4, 2004

Connemara

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We drove through Connemara today (as meta mentioned in her blog, the Aran Islands were cancelled on the account of morning being early). We had to dodge a lot of sheep as we looped the region (from Galway and back), but it was worth it. It surprises me how each of the peninsulas on the west side of Ireland has very different geography; I'll have to rely on the photos to properly demonstrate the variations. Connemara has these mountains that jut straight up from black lakes below. The valleys are wide, though, so driving around them is easy.

Connemara is covered in bog land. I didn't have a good idea of what bogs were before, other than they were wet. It turns out that they look like bumpy grass that's quite squishy. Scattered about the bogs were blocks of peat that the locals had cut out of the bog to dry, possibly to use as fuel. Its rather neat to think that you can literally cut blocks out of the soil. We learned a lot about the development of bogs in Connemara when we visited the Connemara National Park, which is in the northwest part of the peninsula.

We're headed to Dublin tomorrow to turn in our rental car; hopefully we won't lose too much of our deposit on some hubcap 'scrapes' that we collected. As I've said before, driving here is not for the faint of heart. Even being a passenger can be panicking.

Related Entries:
- Kylemore Abbey
- Connemara National Park
- Galway II

The photo gallery mostly contains examples of drive-by tourism. If the pictures seemed blurred right to left or has reflections on top of it, it was taken as the car was moving. It was raining on-and-off as we drove around, so I wasn't always able to roll the window down.

Connemara Photo Gallery (40 photos)

Connemara National Park

Connemara National Park was nice, educational stop, with a little bit of exercise thrown in. We started off our visit at the visitor center, where they have a small exhibit showing the evolution of the land in the park area. About ten thousand years ago the area started emerging from the Ice Age and eventually became covered in oak and pine forests. Then, about five thousand years ago, people started arriving and, as people do, began cutting stuff down. They figured out that burning the forests down was a quick way to clear the land, and, over the course of thousands of years, bog land started developing as the soil became waterlogged from the lack of trees and large amounts of carbon in the soil.

There is now a reverse effect going on in Ireland. Once numerous, the bog lands are rapidly disappearing, and there was an exhibit at the visitor center featuring an unhappy anthropomorphic pile of peat that was sad over its shrinking home.

There are two trails that you can hike there: a 1.4km loop that takes you up a hill, and a ~20min (each way) hike that you can take through some of the more bog-like areas (with plenty of sphagnum, which I unfortunately don't have any good photos of). Our guide indicated that there used to be longer hikes you could take around Diamond Hill, but when we were there those trails were closed to reduce erosion damage. I'm used to US national parks, where the trails are endless, so the lack of hiking was a bit of a disappointment.

In the photos you will see several near the end that look like bumpy grasslands. These are the bog. If you were to step in that grass you would sink a good amount. You'll also see a photo of a totally punk sheep.

Connemara National Park Photo Gallery (31 photos)

Kylemore Abbey

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We were speeding through Connemara when we noticed a huge castle-like house jutting out the side of one of the mountains, which was notable because there was mostly nothing but sheep, rocks, and mountains around. We stopped for a quick lunch and some photos. Above the abbey, a couple hundred feet up the mountain, I could barely make out some sort of statue, most likely a Christian statue of some sort; there is a path up that goes up the mountain to the statue and would probably provide some great views, but I couldn't figure out where the trailhead was.

Apparently the place was built about a century before by someone with a lot of money, and there was a really nice garden, which didn't survive the place being bought by a bunch of nuns. See what detail I have for historical stuff?

Regardless, the place has a killer location.

Kylemore Abbey Photo Gallery (7 photos)

June 7, 2004

Back from Ireland

photo Hi all. I'm back from Ireland. I'm looking forward to posting all my photos, which should be as exciting for you all to go through as attending a slideshow, but I look forward nevertheless. My current estimate is that there are 547 photos. I plan on writing entries to go with most of these, so this may take me all week.

Nigritude Ultramarine

Nigritude Ultramarine

(Anil Dash is a MT developer, so I cast my vote for him)

Link mongering

One of the problems of being away for a week is that the obsessive-compulsive side of me won't let all the media that occurred in the week I was gone go by without viewing. Perhaps it was people clearing out links before they go on summer vacations, but there was an unusual amount of interesting links this past week. It's hard to give credit for each link, though a large number of them did come from Neil Gaiman. Apologies if you posted this on your blog and I'm not giving you credit.

- Fahrenheit 9/11 Trailer (ends with one of my all-time favorite Dubya clips)
- Timeline of the History of Information
- Visual Collections (300,000 images from 30 collections, including maps and art)
- Generic names for soda by county
- riddleplanet.com - Riddle Contest
- How to make friends by Telephone (1940s phone etiquette guide)
- Will Eisner profile
- Student Annotated Bibliography on Lyncanthropes

Neil Gaiman (free to read online works):
- Cinnamon
- Snow, Glass, Apples
- Poems
- Nightfall
- Murder Mysteries

Link mongering Part II

More links, mostly from Mefi

Petals Around the Roses

Petals Around the Roses

Hmmm, it took me about a dozen tries before I got this. Supposedly, the smarter you are, the longer it takes. I wish it took me more guesses.

My next phone?

It's about time for me to upgrade my phone again, assuming that AT&T hasn't changed their contract terms on me again so that I don't get a subsidized upgrade. I'm usually not one for cellphone upgrades, but my current phone (Nokia 6800) has had some physical damage that I've previously mentioned. Also, due to my inexperience with non-flip phones, I've also put a nice crack in the plastic cover over the LCD screen.

The Nokia 6820 is the successor to my phone, and it seems that it has added a lot, including Bluetooth, smaller form factor, and camera. I've also learned that for $45 I can get an SSH client for it (not sure it's worth that much money to me).

If anyone has any experience with the phone, let me know. The reviews look positive, and if I can snag a good deal it will probably be mine.

Nokia 6820 messaging phone | The Register
Nokia USA: Nokia 6820

Poll for MovableTypo folks

This is a question for people that are being hosted on MovableTypo: to what extent are you seeing comment spam on your site? I have seen comment spam there in the past, but none recently. I do not know if this is due to the protection mechanisms in place, or if you all have been diligently removing the spam when you see it. If you could give me a quick comment to estimate the rate at which you see spam, I would appreciate it.

One last poll

I've just upgrade this site to MovableType 3.0. There is very little different about it, mostly just new tools for managing comments and trackbacks. One of the more notable additions is that MT 3.0 would allow me to setup 'registered' comments on this site, i.e. when you comment, instead of entering in a name, e-mail, and URL, you could instead enter in a login and password.

My question for you is: if I added registered comments, would this be more convenient for you?

Here are the pros/cons as I see them:

Pros:
- don't have to type in e-mail and URL if you want that information included
- I could possibly make registered comments more prominent

Cons:
- you have to login
- have to register an account at typekey.com
- your comments on this site are more easily trackable

(This is the last entry today, I promise)

June 8, 2004

Poll apologies

Apologies to all. Even though I have comment moderation turned off with the new MovableType, it still seems to be moderating, which means that all of your comments have been sitting in a queue. I'm working on figuring out this snafu right now.

Update: I'm still completely baffled. As of yesterday, it was allowing comments through unmoderated. Now MT 3.0 wants to moderate, even though the option has been turned off.

Update 2: I'm an idiot. Forgot to uninstall MT Blacklist, a plugin which I will miss dearly. As a bonus, you should be able to use typekey now.

Updates on registration, MovableType 3.0

Now that the comments snafu seems to be fixed, I want to address some of the questions that were raised on the poll.

I'm testing MovableType 3.0 here because I want to see whether or not it's worth installing on movabletypo.net. As a side note, I do not intend to require people to login into TypeKey, though due to positive response I will be providing it on this site. I also do not intend to moderate comments, as I have found that this is actually much more time consuming than deleting spam; it also inhibits discussion.

Installing MT 3.0 on movabletypo will require me to buy a license. However, between my 50% discount for being a beta tester, and discounts for donating to them in the past, the upgrade to 3.0 will actually be free.

Despite the free upgrade, though, I may be inclined to not upgrade movabletypo in the short term. There are two major reasons:
1) They haven't solidified the final licensing yet. I want to get the most bang for the zero buck.
2) Comment spam. With MT 2.x, I can use the Blacklist plugin to eliminate comment spam on all of the movabletypo blogs with a single swipe. Unfortunately, Blacklist is currently not compatible with MT 3.0, and won't be for some time. Granted, it appears that there is actually very little comment spam on movabletypo, but those matters are often only a question of time.

If you desire the better comment management tools, then I could be swayed to upgrade sooner, or if really essential plugins come out for 3.0 that would be of great benefit, then I could also be swayed, but the current release doesn't really add much in the way of new features.

One of my favorites

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This is one of my all-time favorite photos. It's hardly extraordinary, but I like it nevertheless, though it is perhaps a 7-Up ad. (no filters or post-processing involved)

Before this disintegrates into dust

dateThis one's a relic. Back in college I participated in a startup called Storefront Media. About the only highlight that came out of this was that we made it onto the frontpage of the Wall Street Journal, above the crease. Granted, the article had almost nothing to do with us, but seeing the name of our company there in the WSJ allowed us to grin and state with certitude, "Why, we were mentioned on the front page of the Wall Street Journal."

I'm posting it here now because, as I was packing my stuff up for an upcoming move, I came across the paper, and the past four years have not been very kind to it as you can tell. I better post it now before I lose all proof of our claim.

paper   article

June 10, 2004

Bloomsday copyright

This post caught my eye because I was just in Dublin and the post deals with public readings of James Joyce's works for the upcoming Bloomsday. Apparently, the celebrations are being threatened by the last surviving Joyce grandkid unless payment is made.
- Neil Gaiman: Pre-Bloomsday Sigh

Home Media Option, for for free (Updated)

TiVo is now giving the Home Media Option, which allows you to view photos, play music, and schedule your TiVo over the Internet, for free. This should eliminate some of the price/feature disparity that TiVo had with ReplayTV, now that you don't need to pony up $99.

Now I'll have to debate between a new Series 2 TiVo or a DirectTiVo (possibly with High Def). Darn it.

Update:

I thought about this a little bit more, and my current theory is that one big reason TiVO is making HMO free is because of the online scheduling feature. When they do launch the movie/program download service, I think it will be an important part of their model to allow people at work to select a couple of movies, and then have those movies downloading into the TiVo and ready for them when they get home.

Of course, with no TiVos currently coming with built-in ethernet, who knows if the combined Home Media Options will encourage people to purchase add-on hardware.

One clarification: the HD DirectTiVo does not have Series 2 capabilities, according to what I have read.

Crossword oops

I found this browsing through a comment thread about the 'controversy' brewing over the fact that the winning word for this year's Spelling Bee, 'autochthonous', was also Dictionary.com's word of the day the day before.

While people can debate the probability of that being a coincidence, someone else posted an article about a 'coincidence' dating back, appropriately enough, to D-Day. The code names for for the highly secretive D-Day plan -- Utah, Omaha, Overlord, Mulberry, Neptune -- started appearing in the Daily Telegraph crossword puzzle in the weeks prior to the invasion.

Telegraph | News | D-Day crosswords are still a few clues short of a solution

June 11, 2004

Why can't I get the day off too?

I'm getting sick of Ronald Reagan week. I'm fine with honoring the President who presided over the first eight years of my life, but the sheer amount of historical revisionism that's occurring in order to turn him into a presidential hero of mythological proportions is absurd, and I really don't want the Gipper staring up at me from my wallet either.

I'll leave it to this post by Atrios to set some of the facts straight:

The House and Senate did not both come under Republican rule during Reagan's time. The Berlin Wall did not come down when Reagan was in office. Reagan is not the president who left office with the highest approval rating in modern times. Reagan was not "the most popular president ever." Reagan did not preside over the longest economic expansion in history. Reagan did not shrink the size of government. Reagan did preside over what was at the time the "biggest tax cut in history" but it was almost instantly followed up by the "biggest tax increase in history." Reagan was not "beloved by all." He was loved by some, liked by some, and hated by some with good reason.

And while we're giving Reagan's legacy credit, let's credit him for providing CIA training for Osama bin Laden in the Afghani proxy war fights against Russia and his support of Saddam Hussein against Iran. As far as I'm concerned, besides taking deficit spending to epic proportions, and helping the rich get richer, Reagan's legacy is that the replaced the Cold War with the "War on Terror."

June 13, 2004

Calves

Spent most of Sunday at Mike/Kitchen's party. It was a nice, relaxed party, filled with interludes of drunken skanking and an aborted viewing of Bubba Ho-Tep, and in honor of our host, I want to write:

Mike's calves are feking huge
really, really, feking huge
Grapefruits, cantaloupes even
I hope he doesn't kick me

Evil Dead the Musical

Speaking of Bruce Campbell flicks (Bubba Ho-Tep), a visit to the Montreal Just for Laughs Festival will get you a chance to view Evil Dead 1 & 2 - The Musical.

June 14, 2004

Europe travels

I noticed (via ginfiend) that world66 has updated their map offerings. Given my recent travels, here is my updated Europe map:
visited europe map

create your personalized map of europe
or write about it on the open travel guide

they still don't have a visited Asia map...

GMail bonanza

I now have a second Gmail account, which I plan to use in the when I sign up for future online accounts. Google employees are now getting 100 invites a piece (the source of my second account). In addition exponential growth that was started last week with new accounts also receiving invites, it would appear that the exclusive period of Gmail is officially at an end.

Movie: Prisoners of Azkaban

posterOf the three Harry Potter films, this one has the worst character development and worst pacing. If you don't know who the characters in the film are, then the film isn't going to help you, and most of the staple characters (e.g. the teachers) have about as much screen time as the extras. As for pacing, the movie tries to create and maintain so many threads that by the time they all pull together, the bang they create is rather weak. The Sirius Black plot, in particular, feels frequently neglected, despite being the main thrust of the movie.

It feels contradictory to assert this, but despite having these two major flaws, this was by far the best of the Harry Potter films. The previous two Harry Potter films offered their biggest rewards in the way they visualized the "big things," from the sorting hat ceremony to the monsters to quidditch. The problem with this, I found, was that the trailers were about as rewarding as the watching the movie, and the first two movies placed a premium of special effects over story, which moved along in an excruciatingly undeviating manner.

Azkaban, on the other hand, was rewarding in its holistic visualization of Hogwarts, from the well-designed segues that firmly establish the Hogwarts scenary, to a humorous interludes and gag jokes, to the flattened/colorized photography that presents a slightly modified reality that befits the Potter universe. I was especially impressed by the amount of humor, setting, and story that could be gained from segues of the Whomping Willow.

If only the movie had about another 10-20 minutes, so that tension regarding Sirius Black could be maintained, and so that we could see how the characters have grown since the previous year, and so the Marauder's Map is given its due, but perhaps thats too much to ask with such a short gift of time. A large narrative debt has being created and passed onto the next movie, though, and I wonder whether its going to be delt with, or cast aside as an incentive to reread the books.

Comment spam is breaking my will to do... something

Despite various anti-spam attempts, it appears that I will lose this battle unless I take advantage of Typekey in some way, so I had another idea. I've setup a Typekey account called 'noone' ('anonymous' was already taken, so my idea is probably far from unique). It's password is 'noone'. Clearly, some one could login and screw with the account info, but really, what's the point?

So I am updating my templates for a trial period in which I will require all comments to be registered or otherwise be moderated, but if you choose to remain anonymous, you are free to use the 'noone' account to do so. This will be the first entry that features this requirement, if you wish to test it out.

June 15, 2004

A little late

Yahoo! upgraded my storage to 100MB (perhaps someone should tell them that this is less than 1GB), and they also mucked around with the interface ever-so-slightly. Its still mish-mashed and cluttered, but they got rid of the ugly bezelled buttons of the previous incarnation. The interface is also still mean-spirited: instead of taking you directly to your inbox, as any remotely intelligent e-mail client would, it still takes you to a welcome page with a big colorful ad. I also notice that they have a 'Search Mail' button; I don't know if this is new, or if I am noticing it for the first time. I'm not sure why they would choose to put the search mail functionality on a separate page, but leave a "Search the Web" box on every page, unless they're that desperate to steal searches from Google.

Team Discovery?

US Postal will be known next year as Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team, and Lance Armstrong will become an on-air personality for some undisclosed Discovery Channel shows. As long as this doesn't hurt OLN I'm happy, though I guess they won't be the "Boys in Blue" anymore.
- Postal Discovers new sponsor

Samurai

samurai

parakkum, m, and honeyfields are coming over tonight for some RoboRally/LotR RISK madness, but I may have found a game for our next game night: Samurai. You get ten free games before you have to pay $20, and it comes with single player, multi-player, and multi-player networked play modes.

June 16, 2004

Lakers Lose!

Is there anything more to say than that joyous statement?

We ended up watching the second half of the game in TiVo-fast-forward mode, which was about all the time that was necessary to see how pathetic the Lakers were in the final game, completely unable to even challenge the 20+ point lead that the Pistons built up.

I'm still annoyed at the Spurs for screwing up their series against the Lakers.

No more GMail invites

Giving out invites is tiring. I've pretty much exhausted my social networks to find people to give invites out to, so I officially open this entry up to requests for GMail accounts. My only requirement is that you login using your own Typekey account, so I can test some more of MT 3.0's comment settings. I don't expect the same craziness witnessed before on this blog, now that invites are a dime a dozen, but we shall see.

Update: Five more again.

Current count (12:04pm PST): 5
Current count (02:05pm PST): 4
Current count (11:09pm PST): 3
Current count (08:09am PST): 0
Current count (02:45pm PST): -2
Current count (05:43pm PST): 5
Current count (07:55am PST): 0
Current count (01:52am PST 06/20 ): 4
Current count: no longer keeping track or taking requests

Bloomsday 100

Of all the Bloomsday articles, I found this spoof article to be the most humorous, in a dorky sort of way:
- The Watley Review: Bloomsday Virus Inflicts James Joyce on Mobile Phone Users

"Ulysses may be the zenith of modernist writing in the novel form, but it's barely recognizable as a novel or as any other kind of writing," said Francis Harrod, of the anti-virus software developer F-Secure. "Of course the same can be said of text messaging; but nonetheless I sincerely doubt America's youth is equal to the task of sudden, unanticipated confrontation with this book. It could be extremely damaging to their minds."

I remain, as always, virus free.

Ireland Trip Log

I thought it would only take a week, but it's been ten days and I'm only halfway through. This entry sums up my progress: the entries that are unlinked are those which I still have to do, and some of those that are linked need a bit more revision, but if you've been dying to see my Ireland photos you can check them out.

I've mainly done the 'scenic' entries. Most of the Dublin/Galway nightlife stuff I still haven't got to yet, partly because I'm relying on ginfiend/wdj/psychoshepard to blog their recollections and save me the effort of recollecting.

May 29
Dublin I (St. Stephens Green, Trinity)

May 30
Dublin II (Chester Beatty, O'Donoghue's)

May 31
Dublin III (Jameson, Guinness, Temple Bar)

June 1
Dublin to Cork (Kilkenny, Cobh)

June 2
Cork to Kilkee (Ring of Kerry, Shannon Ferry, Kilkee)

June 3
Kilkee to Galway (Cliffs of Moher, The Burren, Doolin, Galway I)

June 4
Connemara (Connemara National Park, Kylemore Abbey, Galway II)

June 5
Galway to Dublin (IV)

June 6
Dublin V

June 17, 2004

BMW + iPod (Update)

The rumors were true: Apple teams up with BMW on iPod adapter.

There's no details, but I'm hoping that I can get the adapter installed in my older BMW.

Update: only 2002 and later are compatible (my car is 2001), and you have to have a stock stereo system. Shucks.

The kit installs into the glove compartment and allows you to control the iPod from the steering wheel.

June 18, 2004

Huge whomping book list

Got this from glynn. It's a huge booklist, on which you're supposed to bold the novels you've read, and add three of your own. In addition to bolding, I italicized books that I own but haven't read yet, to illustrate just how far behind I am. As I am far behind, I haven't added any novels to the list. My rough count is that I've read 52 out of the ~430 books on the list, and have 9 more that I own (or indirectly have a copy) but haven't read. There were certain books that I think I read in high school, but seeing as I don't recall them strongly, I left them unmarked. In a couple more months, I'm sure my Terry Pratchett score will improve, as I have just started making my way through the Discworld series (Pratchett, Dahl, and Jordan are a tad bit overrepresented on this list).

My guess is that meta would destroy me on this list, as I helped her organize many of these books on her bookshelf when she moved into her latest place.

Update: as I didn't contribute three, I'll include the three meta added.

Continue reading "Huge whomping book list" »

MT 3.0 (developer release) commenting blows

It's been awhile since I've had one of my longer software rants, so to your detriment, here goes (this is targeted at MT 3.0 administrators and developers), though if you're in anyway interested in the constant change of the comment configuration on this site, this entry should explain:

Continue reading "MT 3.0 (developer release) commenting blows" »

Another reason to vote not Bush

The past two years have demonstrated that conspiracy theories are justifiable in this administration. My conspiracy theory has been that Bush proposed the Mars/Moon project, not in the spirit of space exploration, but to cripple NASA into cuts/privitization. Perhaps it has more credence now with the latest commission report. All I know is a NASA employee e-mailed me a short message: 'You got it. Two words - "Vote Kerry"!'
- Technology News: Science: Report Favors Privatization of NASA
- Panel dropped idea of closing NASA field centers
- NPR : Commission: NASA Needs Major Changes to Pursue Mars Missions

June 20, 2004

Lots of drinking

Drank at meta's roommate's surprise b-day party, Zeitgeist with rcp, ginfiend, and others, and at the Tonga room at the Fairmont tonight. With the exception of late brunch, everything I ate today was accompanied by alcohol. Perhaps that's why I'm tired even though I've only been up 13 hours.

All was good, though it seems that rcp had more fun at Cafe du Nord that we did at the Tonga room (cheesy pirate decor that's amusing once, but probably not twice, and with live music that doesn't aid the enjoyment).

Update: added two photos of the Tonga Room ambiance

Continue reading "Lots of drinking" »

Europe maps

A friend sent out an article about sign-stealing in Fucking, Austria, which naturally lead to a Google search for a map location of said town. Our searches lead to three great discoveries:

1) Fucking, Austria, has the best domain name of any city (http://www.fucking.at)

2) Their streets signs really are worth stealing, even better than Assawoman Dr., a sign that my friends had 'acquired' in college.

3) Multimap appears to be a great site for finding maps of European towns.

June 21, 2004

Congrats SpaceShipOne

After seeing photos of SpaceShipOne's crashing landing a half a year ago (the craft wasn't badly damaged, and they had just made history billed as the first supersonic flight by a small private firm), I didn't expect to them to turn things around so quickly, but it looks like the makers of SpaceShipOne have a good craft on their hands. Not only did they get the craft dusted off, but they finished the final phases of their development and made it to space and back. Now they just have to complete two flights within two weeks and the X-Prize is theirs.
- SpaceShipOne Makes History with First Manned Private Spaceflight

Free GIFs

The patent covering the algorithm used in the GIF format expired yesterday last week in Japan, UK, France, Germany and Italy. While this may not seem like big news to everyone, it was a huge problem when Unisys started enforcing this patent a couple of years ago. A lot of software (especially free software) stopped having the option to save files to the GIF format, which really sucked if you were doing Web design on the cheap. It also lead to numerous gif burning campaigns..

The patent is still active in some other countries (Canada), but I hope that the GIF format will start appearing in free programs once more.

More info

Update: heavily updated with correct info after better reading of post thanks to bp.

Getting rid of invites

I've been trying to get rid of my gmail invites, now that I've received over twenty, and I'm not cool enough to know twenty people to give them to. After e-mailing my workplace, college mailing list, high school friends, and pho list, I've pretty much run out friends and friends-of-friends.

I hung out on GmailSwap for a bit and managed to collect some good-quality live Pixies and the guarantee from a Yankees hater that the Yankees won't win the World Series. These were entertaining, but the requests are flying by so quick on the site that it was hard to follow. The amusing requests were responded to in a matter of seconds, and I got tired of pressing reload. I may also be receiving a postcard from Europe; but we'll see.

I wanted a less effort intensive means of giving away accounts, and with a good warm fuzzy feeling, so I'm now giving the rest away on gmail4troops. I know many of the troops serving abroad have Internet access, and they don't need to be spending the limited hours they have online using inferior e-mail clients (though whether or not GMail is any good over a slow connection remains to be reviewed).

TiVo request

If you've read this blog for more than a year, you know that two weeks from now this will become a non-stop, photo-filled Tour de France fest (apologies to non-cyclist readers). This year, though, I've gotta problem. I'm moving. The week the Tour de France starts. I can't possibly miss a stage and feel complete, and who knows what dastardly things Comcast might try to do when we sign up for a new cable line. I won't respect myself if I have to resign myself to watching tiny little Web clip replays of all the cool moments.

Please, oh please, can someone with a TiVo and OLN save me from this impending doom? I will bring you beer, or coke, or any other beverage for you to drink while I occupy space in your living room.

If you don't have a TiVo, I'll even let you borrow mine (assuming you have OLN), and you'll become so addicted to the TiVo that I'll have to pry your fingers off of it one-by-one as I reclaim it.

My best guess is that this would only be for a couple of days, but perhaps more if Comcast sucks (is that really an 'if' though?).

June 22, 2004

Latest GMail prize

ken.jpgI'm sure I could have asked any number of Chinese friends to do this for me, but the opportunity came up and I managed to get a fairly nice rendering of my Japanese name. It means health, but it doesn't seem to be helping me too much ;). It's not as hires as I would have liked, but it'll be good enough for importing into Photoshop to use in future graphics if need be.

I also go "warm fuzzy" karma from another gmail swap, so I guess I don't have to do anything nice for the rest of the day :).

Update: got a higher res version now from the person I swapped with. It's nice :)

June 23, 2004

Photos of the day: Kilkee

photo photo

I backposted these (click for more photos) as part of my Ireland trip log, but I enjoy them enough that I'm going to post them again :). (hmm, they would probably look better if the horizon was level)

Updated reading lists

The popularity of the mammoth user-generated list made me want to go and revisit three lists (Guardian Top 100, Random House Board Top 100, Random House Reader's Top 100) that we traded around eight months ago (entry 1, entry 2) to see how I have progressed. I didn't improve as much as I would have liked on the lists, as my biggest improvement was seven on the reader's list, which I previously referred to as the kool-aid list, as someone must be on something to place Rand and Hubbard so frequently and prominently.

Also, to repeat some of our previous evaluations of these lists:
- Guardian: pretentious, tends to select less well known works by prominent authors, not too many American authors
- RH Board: less pretentious, but very American author biased
- RH Readers: kool-aid list, top ten is rather worthless, even more American author biased

Note: I'm giving myself credit for Catcher in the Rye as I am only one or two Caltrain rides away from completion.

bold means that I have read the book
italics means that I have the book in my possession, but haven't read it yet
strike means that I will never read the book

Continue reading "Updated reading lists" »

Book: The Stand

book image

I just finished the complete and uncut version of the The Stand. Luckily, I had a plane trip to and from Ireland to get me started, though even that wasn't enough to get me through the whole book. It's generally not insightful to start off by discussing the book's length rather than it's content, but at 1100+ pages, it's something you notice. The more important aspect of the book, though, is whether or not those 1100+ pages are worthwhile, and for the most part, I think that they are.

Part Lord of the Rings, and the rest feeling like a prequel to Gunslinger, the book did a good job of propelling me through the pages. At first, I was expecting your run-of-the-mill virus-wipes-everyone out story, and as I trudged through the introduction of the complete set of strangers that will all eventually meet through the author's contrivings, it didn't feel like the story was getting much of anywhere very fast. A third of the way through the book, I wasn't really looking forward to making it through the rest.

Then the book started to shift into weirder territory. The realm of science began to evaporated, and in the vacuum a mystical world started to emerge. At first I was put off; for me, the gap between scientific/rational thought and that of magical world is not easily traversed within the same context, so I was thrown ajar. Then I realized that it's a King novel; of course it was going to leave the realm of the rational. The similarities with The Gunslinger also helped pull me through the transition.

The next thing I knew, I had torn through the next third of the book, and I hardly recollected any time passing for the last third as well. I started off by saying that starting off with a discussion of a book length was a bad way to judge a book, but I believe that stating that I was pulled through the last two-thirds of a 1100+ page book is a good way of saying, "It was a darn good read."

It's a book that can foretell it's end, and yet still fill you with suprises. In fact, King frequently tells you exactly what is going to happen in the future, and then demonstrates that he can still do a great job telling you what happens between now and then. I'm not sure I liked the books overall sense of fatalism, but as a storytelling device King made it work.

This is the best King novel I've read, though I confess that I've only read this and the first two novels of the Dark Tower series.

June 24, 2004

Free (temporary) image hosting

These are two, quick and simple sites for posting an image online (temporarily). It doesn't get much more simple than this. The front page of each site has an upload field, and after you upload the image it gives you the image's URL. No signing up or other hassle involved.

Both sites are for temporary image upload, so it's not particularly useful for blogs, but it is good if you're trying to:

a) post an image to a message board, auction, invite service, etc...
b) exchange an image with a group of people

- TinyPic Image Hosting (my uploaded image)
- TechImage (my uploaded image)

Of the two, tinypic seems better, if only because the describe they terms of their service -- images removed after 30 days of no hits or after 10,000 hits -- and their UI is ever-so-slightly more polished. It's not clear what TechImage's rules are. Tinypic also allows you to upload via URL, and the image URLs it generates are, well, tiny (e.g. http://tinypic.com/99b5).

I hope services like these become more prominent; a fair amount of bandwidth on my site is taken up by people posting images from my Web site directly to message boards.

(via fwak)

Beautiful photo essay

A photo essay like this brings tears to my eyes, tears of laughter that is. Don't click on the link if images of wounded cars offends you:
- Pacific Beach, June 14, 2004

(via kottke)

Supplementary reading

After having recently finished Beowulf and The Stand, I was happy to stumble across some good companion reading.

First, there's Beowabbit, which features such mighty verse as:

Then spake Uncouth, who was under Hogrower's heel, official foot-stool, "Thay, aren't you that Beowabbit Who with Thumper thwam in contestht, Thoppily thloshed in that-thea scum; and quoth Thumper, 'My gum, you're dumb!'"

There's also When the zombies take over, how long till the electricity fails?. Although The Stand features a global-annihilating plague instead of mass zombification, I imagine the electrical plants don't mind the distinction.

(via Mr. Happy)

Limerickbound

When I came across the OEDILF, I was astounded. What's is the OEDILF? It's the Oxford English Dictionary in Limerick Form. Granted, they are still on words starting with 'ac', but quality does take time.

I have posted some samples in the extended entry.

Continue reading "Limerickbound" »

June 25, 2004

Puzzle to waste your weekend

I'm going to do something useful for you. I'm going to post a puzzle that can get you a job at Google if you solve it. No guarantees, but they'll probably think your smart or something. The puzzle was printed in an ad in the Tech Review, though there may be other dorky magazines carrying it.

You have to guess the number that goes on the last column. To get the job you have to e-mail your resume to labjobs@google.com.
puzzle (click for larger size)

No posting of answers, though hints are welcome. I don't know the solution, though I've narrowed it down to the candidate solutions.

In case you can't read the columns well, the numbers are 26, 14, 5, 2, 20, and ?.

Update: I have seen multiple people suggest in sites linking to this page that the number 20 is in the wrong place. While there may be multiple solutions, including ones that involve moving the 20, I know of a solution that works very gracefully with the numbers pictures exactly as they are in the photo. It's all a matter of how you count, and that will be my only hint on this problem.

Obi-wan, I need those TPS reports

I mostly post this for parakkum, collector of all alternate Star Wars versions (though perhaps that means he's already seen this):
- Star Wars Office Space

Tip: Adding an Amazon wishlist to your blog

Want to add your wishlist to your blog? Adam Kalsey has a cool little script that's easy to add to your site, once you figure out your wishlist ID.

NOTE: It will only list the name of the items on your wishlist. There are more sophisticated ways of including your wishlist that will include images of the items (using MovableType and the MTAmazon plugin), but using this tool is simpler and works on non-MovableType pages. Instructions are in the extended entry.

Continue reading "Tip: Adding an Amazon wishlist to your blog" »

Y! Maps got Wi-Fi

In the never-ending battle between Yahoo and MapQuest, I now give the edge to Yahoo, which is including Wi-Fi hotspot locations on their maps:
- Mountain View

It is unclear to me how they are getting this data -- you won't find your neighbor's access point listed on it, and some retail locations I know of are missing (Dana Street). They do have every Starbucks and McDonald's listed (sometimes twice), along with apartment complexes, miscellaneous stores (Borders, Apple) and coffee shops.

This is good advertising for those retail chains and apartment complexes. It also means that the next time I visit Boston I won't have to walk up and down Newbury Street with my signal strength indicator trying to find a place to drink coffee :) (Boston Wi-Fi map).

(via asa)

June 26, 2004

Concert: Mike Doughty

We went to go see Mike Doughty perform last night. I would describe it as listening to all the slow (non-jazzy) songs on the Soul Coughing albums (e.g. True Dreams of Wichita) for an hour. That's not to say it was slow, but it definitely had an acoustic performance feel even if Doughty was playing his strat. Perhaps I'm biased from having seen Doughty onstage with in the Soul Coughing days with flashing lights, film reels of smoking cartoon monkeys, and samples blaring through the air. Doughty played with another drummer with an unspellable name and a keyboardist, though for several songs he played solo.

Several Soul Coughing songs were performed:

St. Louise is Listening
Super Bon Bon
True Dream of Wichita
Circles

I was hoping for a little Screenwriter's Blues, but that was a little too much to hope for given their arrangement.

Overall, a good show to be at, but the Soul Coughing comparisons were inevitable for me and I couldn't help thinking, wouldn't Sebastian Steinberg (of Soul Coughing) playing upright bass make this show awesome?

June 28, 2004

Pop is Dead

If you can stand listening to two Nickelback songs simultaneously, this track should be enough to prove to you the demise of pop music. Someone mixed one of their songs on the left audio channel and another of their songs on the right audio channel. Listen as the two songs play on in perfect synchrony.

The next step, of course, is when someone writes a computer program that generates both Nickelback songs automatically, but perhaps the music industry already has this written?
- Brandon: As if there weren't already enough reasons to laugh at Nickelback

(via Mr. Happy)

Nature's wonders big and small

nanoflowerIn the spirit of inverting nature, I first give you flowers, shrunk down to nano-scale: Nanoflowers (another article, gallery, nanotree, nanobouquet)

And, for the small made big, I give you an Attack from the Deep: GIANT Rollie Pollies! (aka pill bugs)

(via apothecary's drawer)

Movie: Fahrenheit 9/11

fahrenheit.jpgI'm not sure I know anybody who isn't going to see this film, and judging from the huge line that we stood in for a 9pm Sunday night show, the Bay Area will generate a huge amount of revenue for this film. Both of these are good things.

The movie brought back a lot of bad memories for me. At the start of Desert Storm I lived on a military base where many of the soldiers on the base were being deployed to fight. I remember the school offering counseling to those who had fathers sent off to fight. I remember the entire community wrapped in yellow ribbons. I remember everyone glued to the television awaiting the latest news of the war. All of my friends were lucky and their father's returned to them, but Moore's film shows that the ultimate fear in that situation -- that they don't come home -- does come true, and using a Bush clip to ask the question, "I can't imagine what it's like to lose a loved one," Moore allows one mother's words to answer Bush and describe the pain for all the audience to feel.

The film also takes the audience back to September 11th, first to the sounds, then the images of the reactions of the New Yorkers on the street. I remembered back to that day and the days that followed, knowing that the Pentagon had been hit right in the new Navy Command Center, and the families that I had shared dinner tables with may have lost a loved one. Many of us experienced a similar fear, in slightly different, personal ways, whether it be an officemate who got a call from a friend on the streets around the WTC that got cutoff, or a friend of yours that you know takes the PATH, or any other degree of connection to one of the sites of attack.

I talk about these memories of fear because that, at its heart, is what Fahrenheit 9/11 is about: the fears that we as a nation shared on September 11th; that same fear that was manipulated into pushing the nation into Iraq; the fears of the Iraqi civilians caught in the crossfire of their liberation; the fears of the families and friends of those sent off to fight. There is also those in the film whose actions are framed without fear, those for whom Moore presents evidence that 9/11 and the events that followed were profitable: Bush Jr., Bush Sr., James Baker, Halliburton, Saudi Royal Family, Cheney, and others.

The evidence isn't damning, and for those that follow the news it's not even new. Even many of the humorous clips have already been well delivered by the Daily Show over the previous two years. Untold revelations weren't expected, though. My memories of Desert Storm and 9/11 weren't new either, but they had been dormant.

What this film also brings to light is that in this day of questionable evidence, the case for the relationship between the Bush family, Saudi royal family and bin Laden family is made as strongly, if not more strongly, than the relationship between Hussein and terrorism, and that the Bush family had far more to gain from Hussein engaging in terrorism than Hussein did. From investments in Bush Jr. business ventures, to the close relationship of Bush Sr. and Saudi Arabia, to the protection of Saudi interests by deflecting attention on Iraq instead of the 15 Saudi suicide bombers of 9/11, to the transport of bin Laden family members out of the US on 9/13, to Bush and Karzai's private interests in a trans-Afghanistan pipeline prior to 9/11, to Cheney's relationship with Halliburton and its award of no-bid contracts, to the 5-10x salary that private contractors make over the soldiers who have to stand and protect them.

Much has been speculated as to how much this movie will effect the upcoming election, with most believing that it will be preaching to the choir. I hope not; there's much in the movie to motivate the vote, from images of black representatives, one after another, opposing the disenfranchisement of the black vote in Florida in 2000, to interviews with poor residents of Flint, Michigan, who have family and friends fighting in the military, juxtaposed with video of military recruiters being sent to the poor mall in town to recruit more. With 80-90% of voters having already made up their mind (one recent stat I heard), it will be the remaining 10-20% that will make this election interesting, as well as the extra 10-20% that wasn't planning on voting, and this movie seems well targeted at those votes.

Update: In light of pqbon's comments, I will offer a clarification of one of my points. If you have been reading non-mainstream news sources, including the numerous anti-Bush books (e.g. House of Bush/Saud), then there is probably very little new information in the movie (the only fact I had not heard was the profiteering conference attended by Microsoft). In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if some of Moore's research consisted of reading blogs and watching the Daily Show. However, if you have been following only mainstream news sources, then nearly everything in the movie was probably new. For most Americans, their knowledge will fall somewhere inbetween, and the movie will certainly play well in that gap.

June 29, 2004

Photo of the Day: iRaq

photo

Seemlessly deployed political statement...

Store cats

photo

I am fascinated by Ripley, Borderland's bookstore cat (About Ripley). I would have a better picture, but Ripley is rather camera shy, and I would like to stay on Ripley's good side.

I am also fascinated by Borderland's, an all-SciFi bookstore not to far from meta's apartment. Though fascinated isn't the proper term in the latter case. Indebted, financially, perhaps is more descriptive. In my last three trips I've managed to pick up Red Mars, Confusion, The Stand, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Chronicles of Narnia (beautiful illustrated version), 3/4 of the Hyperion/Endymion series, Dark Tower III and IV, and Starship Troopers. Of course, I've read almost none of these yet, and I'm sure my next visit will cause me to increase this list even more.

June 30, 2004

RSS Comments

Moving means that I don't get to help bp with setting up RSS comments with MT other than exchange links and ideas over IM, but I'm hoping to have support for this soon in the feed aggregator for movabletypo.net (currently disabled due to DSL being shut off).

Side note: I have the code for the feed aggregator on a flash drive, so hopefully all systems will return to 'normal' by tomorrow.

Fodder for Mythbusters?

Might be a little too gross to bust this one, though: Iranian woman 'gives birth to frog'

Subscribe to comments bookmarklet (Yahoo and Bloglines)

As a follow-up to bp's entry on RSS Comments, I now give you a bookmarklet for bloglines and My Yahoo! users that will let you subscribe to RSS comments:

Subscribe to Comments (Bloglines)


Subscribe to Comments (My Yahoo!) (NOTE: you must add the RSS Headlines content to your My Yahoo! page)

Of course, bp's site is the only site supporting RSS comments right now, but I plan to add that feature to every movabletypo site, as well as kwc.org (when the real server comes back online).

Update: added My Yahoo! bookmarklet.

what is this?

This page contains all entries posted to kwc blog in June 2004.

May 2004 is the previous archive.

July 2004 is the next archive.

Current entries can be found on the main page.

listing.