COPA is under a legal challenge right now. (When it was passed, it was sardonically referred to as “Son of CDA” or “CDA II”.) It’s going to fail court test on constitutional grounds, just like CDA did, and for exactly the same reason: it chills constitutionally protected speech between adults, which the courts have unambiguously stated is an unacceptable price to pay to protect children. (That was why CDA failed.)

I feel that I should help spread the word about the latest American Medical Association warning.

Is there some catch? Philip Morris agrees to some level of FDA regulation of tobacco; it will be interesting to see where this goes.

It hit me this morning that the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act has an effect on anyone that uses Manila to run a commercial website; I’m not sure how you’d restrict membership so that kids under 13 can’t sign up. (I asked this question over on the Frontier discussion board, and Stephen has started a discussion about COPA here as well.)

I’m listening to Cliff Ellis, coach of Auburn basketball, talk about Chris Porter being ruled ineligible by the NCAA right now, and the thing that’s disturbing me is that Ellis is almost completely blaming the agent who gave Porter money. His contention is that this guy “preyed on someone in a weak moment” — but we’re talking about an adult here, a guy with two kids. Porter’s responsible for his own choices.

We started moving into our new offices today (well, most people did; I’ve been in the new place for four months now). The new offices are on the smallish side, but I really like my new workspace.

Darryl Strawberry has been suspended from baseball for a year. I feel bad for him… he beat colon cancer (or is beating it so far), but now addiction is beating him. I wish him well, and the best of luck.

sombrero galaxy

Ummmm… the Sombrero Galaxy is way cool.

Wowzers! Chuck Lau has put up a complete mirror of the original Mosaic Communications Company (the company that produced the first “Netscape” browser and went on to be Netscape). Very neato, and very early 90s. Note that there actually were multiple ways to get to the site, all looking slightly different; they’re all shown here. The best thing about the mirror is that it points to the original Yahoo URL; I think it’s sad that the clear majority of today’s Internet users never knew it by that address.

According to the NYC District Attorney, Sean Combs offered 50 Gs to one of the people in the car to say that his gun wasn’t his.

And also in entertainment news, Fox is pulling the plug on all those “reality shows”. That’s real, real sad…

If he really feels this way, why not have the damn conversation via email? And why point to it off your home page?

And as for the acidic comment directed to Bob Burke also on that home page, that’s fine that Dave feels no need to patent his work, but to be so overt in his expression that everyone else should agree with him lest they reveal themselves as greedy pigs… whatevers.

After seeing the boycott Amazon site, I wonder if there’s a site for boycotting car companies that obtain patents, or drug companies, or computer companies, or software companies…

And as for Michael Wallace’s statement, there’s actually a very strong argument that if you take away a company’s ability to patent their innovations, then there is less of a desire to innovate; if I spend time, money, and manpower creating something new, and then companies can just take the idea from me and not have to invest the same time and money in planning, then why would I want to innovate? And if I can just steal their ideas, there’s even less of a reason for me to stick my neck out.

I’m fairly surprised that Dave Winer points to the “Girlfriend Remote” on today’s Scripting News; it’s a pretty offensive little thing. (Similarly, the commercial for Focus Daily contact lenses that’s currently running, where a bunch of teenage girls say that you throw the lenses away every day “just like boys,” seems like it’s only tolerable because it’s girls ranking on boys; flip it around, and I doubt many TV stations would run it.)

If you’re even remotely interested in DVDs — the technology, the issues surrounding studios’ decisions about DVDs versus VHS tapes, and the movies that are released on the format — then the DVD Resource Page is for you. It’s Steve Tannehill’s (usually) one-subject weblog, it’s been around since September 1997, and it’s definitely worth a bookmark.

I cannot tell you how much the overprescription of psychotropic drugs in kids disturbs me.

The Mardi Gras silliness continues. Last year, 360 people were arrested for public indecency; this year, they’ve already started arrests, and are threatening shutting down the balconies on Bourbon Street from which people throw beads down to people. Maybe I’m sheltered, but I can’t recall anyone ever complaining about what goes on during Mardi Gras…

I could not want to stand up and stretch any more, but I have a contented, purring, sleeping cat on my lap, and life doesn’t get any better than that.

My brief take on the Amazon patent for their Associates program: it doesn’t bother me in the slightest. For starters, they applied for the patent on June 27, 1997, which is a long time before the Internet commerce craze hit. They put time, programming skills, and money into developing the program, the first of its kind (so far as I know, and Business Wire 7/18/1996 agrees). And, most basically, they are entitled to protection for their innovations, just as drug companies are entitled to patents on their new medications.

I think that the furor over this patent is a function of the fact that it took 2+ years to grant the patent, during which similar systems have popped up at other websites. This doesn’t mean that those systems weren’t copied when the webmasters of those sites saw Amazon’s successful model; in fact, I suspect that’s exactly what happened.

I think I like Fred McPherson’s take on all this.

And as for the much-ballyhooed noamazon site, I find it lacking in truth. For example, on their explanation page, they try to draw parallels between the 1-Click patent and “taking a credit card order over the phone” — a very weak parallel. Instead, imagine an entire system whereby I could give a company my billing and shipping information ahead of time, and then I could just call them, type in an item number and my customer ID number, hang up, and expect my item to ship out for delivery. That’s the parallel to the 1-Click system.

zzyzx road

For the linguists and Scrabble players out there, a truly comprehensive site to visit is A Collection of Word Oddities and Trivia. Where else can you find out which words have four, or even five, same letters in a row, or what the longest word with only one vowel is, or even what pneumo­no­ultra­micro­scopic­silico­volcano­coniosis means?

That’s cool — because that’s such a long word, I decided to learn how to represent a soft hyphen in HTML, so that your browser will wrap it with hyphenation. (For reference, it’s “­” or “­”.) I just noticed that this doesn’t work in Netscape 4.X; it turns out that there’s a large historical discussion behind the soft hyphen. The long and short of it is that HTML 4.0 defines it the way that IE 5.X displays it — a discretionary hyphen, only visible when the browser wraps a line at it.

This makes me want to vomit. (Mental note to self: to stay calm and keep your food down, remember that anyone who says that their way is the only way is sheltered and needy of perspective.)

Quite possibly, the coolest 404 page I’ve seen. I may have to implement some o’ that myself…

Last month, Dubya spent $288 a minute, and all he got was the lousy South Carolina primary.

I have had to think about this long and hard, since I used to be their biggest fan, but I’ve come to a decision that I can no longer recommend Dell computers to anyone. I have an Inspiron 7000 laptop, less than 6 months old, and Dell has decided that they will offer no support for it and Windows 2000; they now have a newer top-of-the-line Inspiron, and because of that, I get no support for my machine. No drivers, no ACPI-compliant BIOS, nothing.

honolulu from shuttle radar mission

I didn’t realize that some of the images are back from the Shuttle Radar Topography Mission. Some of the pictures are just amazing.

As if there was ever any doubt that it would happen, my Barnes & Noble order is now lost, and they cannot explain what has happened to it. I got three different excuses for what “could have happened” from three different customer service reps, and a manager who outright refused to come to the phone, instead relaying various and sundry concessions through one of the first-tier reps. What a horrible, terrible company; I hope that Amazon puts them out of business.

Very very very very cool: David Carter-Tod has implemented LDAP authentication in Frontier. (David’s the same guy that wrote an XML-RPC client and server for Active Server Pages.)

There’s an interesting press release at the official Star Wars site that answers the question of why there are no releases, or planned releases, of the Star Wars movies on DVD. The bottom line is that George Lucas ostensibly wants to “do something special with the DVD release,” and due to his concentration on Episode II, doesn’t have the time to put into it right now. Our loss…

Can Mardi Gras survive without the nekkidness?

Ummmm… could there be anything cooler than a microscope that can see a single atom? Wow.

A GAO study released this yesterday confirms what I’ve suspected — most daytraders lose big money. Interesting to me is the fact that the GAO study was commissioned in the wake of Mark Burton, the daytrader who slew nine people and then committed suicide last July. (I’m looking for a link to the report; it’s not on the GAO site yet.)

Genius, sheer genius.

A brief update on my rant about a bad experience with Barnes & Noble online. (Even more briefly: the CDs have still not shipped, and they cannot explain why.)

diana krall

Congratulations to Diana Krall (who can drop me a line anytime) for her two Grammy Awards — best jazz vocal performance and best engineered non-classical album (both for When I Look In Your Eyes). (As a Grammy winner, it’s supposed to be 30% off at Amazon; I’m going to call them to see why it isn’t, especially given that it’s the #4 seller on Amazon right now.)

Victor Stone’s latest column is a perfect depiction of my experience trying to roll out new (or unfamiliar) technologies in the workplace.

And, it seems that Lawrence Lessig has expressed reservations about breaking up Microsoft to Judge Jackson. I’m glad to read this, since I think that Lessig actually has some influence with Jackson.

Tonya Harding has apparently lost her cool again.

Still on the HTTP server status code thread: did anyone else know that the way Internet Explorer decides whether or not to show its own “friendly” 404 error page (if the friendly errors are turned on) is by checking the size of the one sent from the server? On my machine, the registry setting is 512 bytes — if a 404 page is less than 512 bytes, then IE shows its own, and if it’s bigger, then IE shows the one returned from the server.

Hmmmmm — it seems that there’s a porn website (or a meta-porn website, if you want to be specific) on, despite the bolded statement on the about page that reads “No porn sites, hate groups, spammers.” (This means that, as the ad system is set up now, you could end up with a porn ad on your page if you are diplaying banner ads from Erin Clerico began a discussion about this on Thomas Creedon’s weblog; Dave has also started a discussion on itself about what, if any, solutions are needed.

I’ve had the Virtual Bubblewrap page bookmarked for a while now, but it’s never given me the satisfaction of the real thing. From the age of Shockwave, though, comes Perpetual Bubblewrap, which is much more satisfying. Cooooool.

It seems that a new book proclaims that astronauts have had sex in space, but NASA’s denying the assertion. Come on — I’d have to assume that people have experimented on the Shuttle, with or without NASA’s consent.

While Passport Access isn’t webcrawling for resumes anymore, they are still grabbing them off of websites and “technical sites” by hand and giving or selling them to clients, which is still a major violation of U.S. Copyright law. As brig mentioned two days ago, perhaps they need to read 10 big myths about copyright explained. (Of course, when I emailed them about this a while back, I gave them a bunch of copyright links to peruse, and it apparently didn’t do much.)

Slightly updated information about the #objectNotFoundHandler — it should return an HTTP status code 404, since that’s the code that, by spec, should be returned to the client when a page isn’t found.

Back on the Win2K wagon: there’s now a TechNet page with the top support issues for Win2K. A good one: what Windows Time Service is, and how it works. (Windows Time Service appeared with Win2K, and up until now, I have had no idea what it does!)

From Medley today comes a scary interview with Al Gore in which he seems way too blasé about the possibility that innocent people could be executed under death penalty convictions.

A shocker of a news story — the Multimillionaire couple isn’t going to remain married. I love that the bride wishes that she “had the moral fortitude… to walk away” when she was the one chosen by Rockwell… that shouldn’t be one’s big moral test in life.

What bothers me most about the whole bust Microsoft up tirade is that Microsoft has made my job so much easier. Imagine the life of a typical IS person when they have to deal with dozens of different versions of operating systems running on the desktops of their company, all having to use the same peripherals, share the same devices, write in the same file formats… it’s a nightmare waiting to happen, and it’s what is about to be legally imposed on us. Ugh.

A little while ago, when I was playing around with a little web app I was writing, as well as the Manila #objectNotFoundHandler, I came across a great reference of the HTTP server status codes. We all know what a 404 is, and many of us know that a 403 is an access forbidden, but what about 410 (gone), or 205 (reset content)?

A few days ago (last Thursday night, but after midnight, making it February 18th), I decided to buy a few CDs online. I had a coupon for $10 off at Barnes & Noble’s site, and they had the CDs that I wanted, so I decided to use them. Big mistake.

Setting up my account

My first problem with B&N was with the account setup system. In order to be able to place an order with Barnes & Noble online, you have to set up an account with them. (This is no different from most, if not all, online merchants.) Their setup system flat-out refused to store my credit card information; for the first three times that I submitted it, I got back a cryptic database message (I wish that I had kept it), and the next two times, it accepted it, but when I went back to the billing information screen, I had no credit cards listed. For some reason, I tried a sixth time, and it worked — I have no idea what I did differently.

Then, it allowed me to set up specific shipping addresses. Since I cannot receive packages at my residence (I live in an apartment building without a doorman, meaning that I end up playing chase with a UPS or FedEx driver for days), I always have stuff shipped to work. I decided to set this up as my primary shipping address… and again, it just didn’t stick. The server seemed to accept it — I didn’t get any error messages, but it just wasn’t there. It took three tries to get it to stay.

With that done, I embarked on my shopping spree. Everything that I wanted was listed as in 24-hour stock, so I felt good that I’d have it all soon.

The gift certificate

At the end of the buying process on B&N, you’re asked for any gift certifiates that you may have (it’s step five). I entered the number of the one that I wanted to use, and then clicked to proceed. On the next screen (step seven), the gift certificate had not been taken off of the price. Hmmmm… I hit back in my browser, and it was typed into the space just fine. I clicked “Continue” again, and this time, it was accepted… strange. I clicked to confirm my order, and within about 10 minutes, got an email confirmation that everything was proceeding along, and that I’d get another email when the CDs shipped. For kicks, I checked my order status on their site, and it was listed as “In Process.”

I then clicked on the feedback mechanism on the website and penned off a quick note about my poor experience, and wondered to myself if I would ever get a response.

Flash forward to today…

This morning (around 9 AM Eastern), I realized that I didn’t have any confirmation that my CDs had shipped. I checked my order status on their site, and the order was still listed as “In Process” (whatever that means), so I called them.

The first annoyance of the call was that, after negotiating two menu trees, I was asked to put in my order number via my touch-tone phone. I did so, and then it asked me my zip code; after I entered this, I was connected to a human, whose first question was “What is your order number?” I asked her why I had been asked to type it in on my phone, and her answer was “I’m sure that there’s a very good reason for it, but I really can’t answer that.” Interesting.

More interesting, though, was her explanation for my order status — it appeared that my credit card had failed authorization. I had just used that credit card this morning, and knew that it was fine, so I asked her to read me back the number that they had. She read the last five digits, which were fine, so I asked her for the whole number. She replied, “Oh, I’m sure that you typed it in wrong… do you just want to give it back to me, and I’ll enter it and resubmit the order?” I told her that I didn’t want that; instead, I wanted her to read me the whole credit card number so that I could verify what they had, and she put me on hold. Three minutes later, she read it back to me, and sure enough, it was correct. I asked her why it had failed, then, and she had no clue — which is my clue to ask for a manager.

Her manager then came to the line, and I repeated my troubles to her. I told her that I was amazed that I had to call them to find out that my order was on hold; she said that I should have received an email to that effect. I explained that I didn’t, and she was audibly amazed (for lack of a better description). I also told her that I was a little put off by the complete lack of a response to my feedback message about the troubles I had even setting up my account and placing my order; she apologized for that, and offered me 30% off of this order. I told her that that was fine, she resubmitted my order, and said that it was going to be shipped out ASAP. That ended the call.

This evening

When I arrived back home this evening from school, I checked the status of the order again, and it was still “In Process.” I called to ask if and when it was going to ship, and was told that it was “in the process of shipping,” but that there would be “no possible way” for it to go out before tomorrow, since all of the items were on 24-hour inventory. I agreed with the woman, but noted to her that they were on 24-hour inventory last Thursday, when I placed the order… and that a manager told me they would ship ASAP when we spoke this morning. This agent told me that tomorrow is ASAP, and tried to “explain” how web merchants work to me. She also said that it was the gift certificate that I had used that caused the entire problem; their system breaks with certain gift certificates, and here’s the kicker: there’s no way for them to know the orders that have broken without the customer calling in to complain. I told her that that line alone had guaranteed that I never will shop with them again, and she apologized, said she wished it weren’t so, and insinuated that I should have been happy to get the 30% discount. Buh-bye.


Like I said a few days ago, good web merchants can make your life a lot easier. The flip side of this is that bad ones can make it a lot harder; there’s no reason why customers should have to keep a close eye on their orders to make sure that they haven’t been forgotten or caught in a poorly-designed system. There’s just no excuse for it.

Now, does anyone think I’ll see those CDs?

(A brief Wazzup! to my friend VJ, who’s gonna be coming here later to find the real and spoofed commercials.)

io, moon of Jupiter

I think it’s so cool that the Galileo satellite flew within 124 miles of Io today. This is a satellite which ended its primary mission in 1997, ended its extended secondary mission last year, and now is in yet another extension. So, when a mission fails (like the recent Mars Polar Lander mission), remember that there are quite a few missions that have lasted well beyond their intended lifespans.

Rant of the day: where the author orders from Barnes & Noble online, and regrets it immensely.

Synergy: after my comments a little while ago about a San Antonio high school basketball player being charged, and convicted, of assault after throwing an elbow during a game, Bruins defenseman Marty McSorley intentionally slashed Canuck Donald Brashear and is facing a criminal investigation.

I can only assume that Palm’s new folding keyboard is the Stowaway keyboard by Think Outside. (And quickly comes confirmation of this, thanks to Lawrence.)

I used to enjoy reading Peter Coffee’s columns, but over the last year or two, he has firmly planted himself into the jack of all trades, master of none category. He also has found it incredibly difficult to hide his clear anti-Microsoft stance, and it’s gotten tiresome. (One other complaint: the above-linked article doesn’t start until halfway down the web page on my 1024x768 monitor; the portion above that is taken up by a nav bar, a banner, an ad, a search bar, a column header, and a three-line byline… not the greatest design. I’d hate to be in 640x480…)


Ricky Williams, an NFL player, was taken to jail last night for refusing to sign a traffic ticket. My favorite thing about this: his lawyer essentially said that it was terrible judgement by the police to jail him, since he’s famous and they know where he lives. Ahhhh, so that’s how our criminal justice system should work; if you’re famous, you don’t have to follow the law, since they cops know where to find you. Huh?

I dunno… I could see Finger Twister getting out of hand at office parties; a good 20-inch monitor would be an asset. (Thanks to Eric for the pointer on this one.)

I’m probably the last one to figure out that is back on the air. Unfortunately, the Yankee Doodle background music is too annoying for words, and since I can’t hit a button to turn it off, I have to leave their site now.

Remember back on December 24th, when I recommended the Blue Note Years box set? Well, back then, it was around $200; right now, you can get it for $156.78 at CDNOW. Awesome deal, for an awesome set of music.

Hola right back atcha, Dan… (and the other Dan, too).

I definitely need a pair of red-blue 3D glasses, and possibly, I need to stop obsessing so much over the NEAR satellite.

So, it may be that a former writer for South Park, currently writing for That 70s Show (moved to tonight!), is the genius behind the Superfriends Wazzup commercial spoof. (The spoof is on AdCritic.)

I went surfing around the web looking for information about the Blue Note music label, and also happened upon Blue Note Radio, which is just friggin’ excellent. (Two notes: first, it requires Flash, and second, it’s not going to open up exactly as it would if you went to the Blue Note homepage and clicked through to it; they use JavaScript to bring it up, and I didn’t feel like figuring it out.)

After discovering that Rick Rockwell, the groom in Fox’s Who Wants to Marry a Multimillionaire, once allegedly threatened to kill an ex-girlfriend, Fox has removed the rerun of the show from their schedule. (The ex-girlfriend got a restraining order against him then.)

And now, Chuck pointed here and asked whether the woman who Rockwell (nee Balkey) married can divorce him and take half his money — a very interesting question, it turns out. All 50 women who participated in the show were required to sign prenups, but the prenups (ostensibly to keep the identity of the groom a secret as long as possible) were extremely vague as to his assets; they “summarized” what he was bringing into the marriage. Almost every lawyer who has talked about this today has said that such prenups are never upheld in court; one of the basic requirements of the agreements is that they explicitly spell out the assets that are covered. It’ll be interesting.

I needs me a Massachusetts quarter!

Worth every second you spend reading it: Sean Riley’s review of “Secret Video Game Tricks, Codes & Strategies”. I wasn’t going to point to this until I found myself unable to breathe I was laughing so hard. A few choice quotes:

  • “The whole damn thing is like letting a friend play your Nintendo badly with their feet. Only they don’t talk, you hate them, and they’re dressed like an insane housepainter.”
  • “I don’t know why they did it. Were they trying to make children cry, or did they just want to make it very clear that he wasn’t enjoying himself? A football player running aimlessly in circles, a close up of a half dead mutant kid staring at a game he hates… it’s like East German surrealistic filmmaking meets the production values of a local used car commercial.”

Molly Ivins on Dubya: “I am a Texan…. I know what kind of governor this guy has been — if you expect him to do for the nation what he has for Texas, we need to talk.”

The Washington Post proclaims that Win2K isn’t for home users, but there’s a strong part of my brain that firmly believes that it’s an excellent choice for people who have home machines hooked up to always-on Internet connections, like cable modems or DSL lines. The main reason I feel this way is that the security model is pretty damn tight, and for a group of users that generally has not had to worry about security concerns before on their home machines, maybe something like Win2K would help.

It appears that DirecTV is engaging in a little of the ol’ bait and switch tactics when selling sports packages. In addition, though, the author documents the sad state of most customer service phone calls quite well:

I ask why these rules aren’t mentioned on their Web site in the description of the package. He says they are. I happen to have the site open during our conversation and ask where I should look on the page to see a mention of this “in-market” restriction. I even read it to him, but as I do, he keeps interjecting the phrase “in-market” at the end of every sentence, even though it’s not actually written there — like we just ate Chinese food and he’s adding “in bed” to the end of every fortune.

Stories like this underscore the fact that you put your trust completely in the pilot when you get onto a plane. The story, though, has a great explanation of what goes into figuring out how high a commercial plane can fly, and weight limits, and other mystical principles of physics that keep planes in the air (or make it tough for them to stay there).

There are just some criminals that aren’t quite smart enough to pull it off.

Cool new Windows 2000 feature of the day: Secondary Logon (also known as Run As). This lets you run applications as another user — so I can log in as a normal non-administrator level user, and occasionally run an admin tool as the domain administrator. Very very cool that Windows has finally gotten this feature. There’s a list of other Win2K tips, too.

Oh, and a gem of a find is that Microsoft has started to collect all the frequently-asked Windows 2000 questions on a single knowledge base page.

Today, I decided to do a complete reinstall on one of my Windows 2000 boxes; I bought a big, fast new hard disk for it, and wanted to strip it down to bare metal, as it were, and start the installation from scratch. From this experience comes these recommendations (which you’ll note aren’t all as practical as you were probably expecting):

  • If you have more than one hard disk in your machine, delete the partitions off of all of them and only let the Win2K installer partition and format the one that you’re putting the actual Win2K files onto. I let it partition and format both of my drives, and when the setup was complete, I ended up with my operating system on D: and my blank hard disk at C:. Ugh.
  • If you have multiple computers and a small area to work in, get yourself a Black Box ServSwitch Wizard, at the very least. Because of this little box of joy, I was able to set up the Win2K machine while doing maintenance on my Linux box and working on everything else I needed to do on my other Win2K box, all on one keyboard, mouse, and monitor. Really helps to be able to do that.
  • During the long format and copy stages of Win2K setup, grab a vacuum cleaner and get all of the nastiess out from underneath those tangles of cable and computers. We all have it, because we all shove our computers into narrow, poorly-ventilated spaces; that’s where the dust and evil lurks. When you are devoted to sitting near your computer waiting for file copies to finish, it’s the perfect time to clean all that stuff up, and it really only takes 10 minutes or so to do.
  • Come to think of it, during that time, set up a nice set of speakers. I had these in their box on my floor for the last three months, because I don’t have a surround sound card in my workstation; I decided the hell with that, set them up while my hard disk was formatting, and they’re awesome.

Hmmm, who knew — the Fox multimillionaire isn’t all he said he was. Wow.

Salon has published a pretty good look at the issues involved with the Federal judges denying APBNews access to their financial disclosure forms; they also speculate as to whether Dubya had anything to do with the closing of certain voting stations in South Carolina’s primary today.

I don’t know how I missed yesterday that the FDA has finally gotten around to declaring mifepristone “approvable”. It’s offensive that it’s taken this long to get this far, and that it sill has hurdles to jump.

And I cannot, for the life of me, think what problem is solved for NBCi (NBC’s Internet division) by adding a “.1” to the end of already-valid email addresses. If they were changing “” to “”, then perhaps it’s justified to avoid address collision, but to leave the same domain name on the address means that this is most likely purely a power play to get people to change their addresses to some other central NBCi domain name. (I’d imagine it will, instead, get the users to change their email addresses to some HotMail or Yahoo address.)

I’ve spent my whole day setting up a new computer for my parents for their new cable modem connection, but it now turns out that Time Warner won’t get around to the connection for another two weeks. (Of course, at least my parents can get a cable modem; they live on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, which is where the money is, so it’s also where Time Warner provides services first. They’ve had digital cable for over a year, and can now get a cable modem; over 2/3 of the city still doesn’t have digital cable.)

And now I’ve noticed that postings in the Discussion Group don’t have their titles displayed; I’m on my way home to fix that. Fixed.

Sorry about the quietness here; I’m now redoing the config on the machine that had hosted Q for the last month. (LVD SCSI hard disk, nice video card, blah blah blah.)

The following was posted to the Scripting News discussion board in response to this article:


I am extremely troubled by this reply.

No-one sets out to commit a social gaffe. All of us try to behave correctly. But we all make mistakes, and it is part of being a mature person to accept that sometimes we screw up. It’s important to be able to listen to others, to accept criticism and to understand that sometimes we’re wrong.

This isn’t “being remade”, this is just what’s necessary for imperfect humans to function in a social world without killing each other.

I have no opinion on the fundamental issue this whole business is about. I haven’t even visited Dave Polaschek’s site.

I’m observing this whole thing solely from the point of view of social graces and behavior. And I’m bothered by what I see.

All of us modify our behavior to suit the people around us all of the time. This is normal, healthy and mature. It isn’t any kind of sacrifice of individuality; rather, it’s nothing more than common courtesy.

There are people I spend time with where certain levels of profanity are considered normal and acceptable. There are other people I know which are offended by that kind of thing. I modify my language based on whom I’m with.

Is it truly your desire that the only things you read here are people praising you? Do you really want to be surrounded by yes-men?

If so, I feel deeply sorry for you.

There’s a guy named Paul. I used to work with him.

When I got out of college, I was insufferable. While technically competent, I was socially immature, and was careless and abrupt with the people around me. As a result, I tended to antagonize others, and I didn’t know why.

Paul didn’t have any choice but to work closely with me, and he’s one of the people I antagonized. He came to me one day and told me about this, and I confessed to him that I didn’t know what it was I was doing to make people dislike me, but I wanted to change it.

So we made a deal: whenever I said or did something he didn’t like, he told me immediately.

And over the course of a year, I changed. I learned.

I owe him a debt I can never repay; he taught me things I could never learn any other way, although I know it wasn’t fun for him to do this.

Yes, it changed me. It improved me.

There’s nothing wrong with change.


It received a one-bit response: it got deleted within 15 minutes of being posted. I think that is a very eloquent reply, though perhaps it says more about the deleter than about the deleted.

I find it extremely ironic that I read the following quote on Scripting News: “The web treats censorship as damage, and routes around it.”

I have three words for all of you: SNOW SNOW SNOW!

I don’t care what anyone else thinks… last night’s episode of ER was amazing. My heart raced from start to end and my emotions were completely involved in the show; as a friend put it when I spoke to her afterwards, during the commercials, I realized that I should start breathing again.

Awesome — I had no idea that there was a central repository of comments regarding Winer v. Powazek. I, like John, am slightly incredulous that a man who waxed poetic about the needless bitterness and exclusivity in the web author community would then senselessly attack another member of that community.

The Linux Knowledge Base looks like it could have some real potential when it launches in earnest.

Ummmm… some people claim that keeping a website like this is slightly freakish, but it’s nowhere near the scariness of Derek’s Big Website of Wal-Mart Purchase Receipts.

remember this quote? we may hear this again:

“he earns praise for the ordinary, for what used to be the expected. his occasional ability to retain facts is cited as a triumph when it should, in fact, be a routine occurrence …”

— richard cohen, washington post, june 2, 1983, referring to ronald reagan.

Excellent online diary entry about Who Wants to Marry a Multi-Millionaire.

Couldn’t resist pointing to it: yesterday, Dave Winer decided to hurl an insult at Derek Powazek, seemingly out of the blue, at least for those of us who aren’t “in” enough to know why. Derek responded gracefully, which led Dave to heap more insult on top later in the day. And it all got summed up quite accurately by Neale Talbot today.

After Jerry Lewis said that women can’t be comedians (and something much more offensive), Entertainment Weekly has their list of 10 women funnier than Lewis. I hope they stopped at 10 because it’s a round number; I can’t think of any female comedians not funnier than Jerry Lewis.

For those (like me) who couldn’t contact the main NEAR satellite site, there’s now a mirror.

A two-fer in the latest installment of Bushism of the Week:

If you’re sick and tired of the politics of cynicism and polls and principles, come and join this campaign.
How do you know if you don’t measure if you have a system that simply suckles kids through?

Interesting question: if legislators stop the anthrax vaccination program, what will happen to the soldiers who refused to take it? Brings up questions of insubordination, right to make choices about one’s own health, and evidence-based practice of medicine on a forced, national scale.

I have to say, I don’t feel too badly for students at colleges which have banned Napster on their networks, and looking at it as “censorship” is just plain ridiculous. When universities with huge bandwidth are saying that 61% of that bandwidth has, at times, been used exclusively by Napster, then they have to do something about it.

Maxim for life in the year 2000: a well-implemented web commerce site makes your life significantly easier.

Great example: Insight. When you view your past and present order status, it’s a direct glimpse into their orders database; one time, I was on the phone with a rep working out a replacement for a DOA item, and as he was entering it, I saw the order on my account order info screen. Shipping and tracking info is also real-time.

Bad example: On any item screen, they show a little button which is supposed to tell you availability of an item (ships in 24 hours, on back order, etc.). Three times now, they have had something as in-stock when it is backordered for months; when I placed my order, they didn’t tell me about the delay, and I had to call to find this out when my item didn’t arrive after a few days. Weeks later, they still hadn’t changed the status, and actually said to me “if status is really that important to you, we’d recommend that you call to verify it before placing your order.”

As a general rule, I like TV ads that surprise you.

Tres interessant — it seems that the Mars Polar Lander probably had a fatal flaw; I’d imagine that, if this is true, it’s buried about 100 feet deep in the Martian soil at this point.

It just seems that there’s no way that my cat could become overweight; I found her on the street, pretty small, and she’s just remained small no matter what I feed her. She’s wiry and rambunctious, and doesn’t seem to be in any hurry to settle down into the lazy, moody cat thing.

What a child. When Rodman was with the Spurs, I begrudgingly thought maybe he had changed, but nope, he ended up on waivers. Hint to you, Dennis: when you say “Nobody else in the league would have gotten kicked out for that,” it’s because nobody else could have been kicked out for that, because nobody else would have sat down on court.

A few political links this morning. First, two good articles from Slate about the disingenuous “push polls” conducted by Dubya’s camp in South Carolina, and just how much Dubya is like his father. Then, there’s nothing quite like a little hypocrisy in an election year.

Despite much resistance, I saw Cider House Rules last night, and it was pretty good. Since I just reread the book a few weeks ago (easily one of my top five, thus the source of my resistance), it was still fresh in my mind, and I was disappointed that some pretty major characters were written out of the movie, but all in all, it was more faithful to the book than I thought it was going to be. What a great story, too.

eros crater

NEAR-related quote of the day, regarding the weak gravity of the asteroid Eros and the large crater seen in pictures taken yesterday: “If you were running down the wall of the crater and you were running back up, you’d probably just leave.” (Joseph Veverka, Cornell scientist, from MSNBC) That’s so damn cool.

Why haven’t I read more about Jerry Lewis clearly having a psychotic episode?

WOW. I cannot wait to get home and start playing with this; damn not being able to force an update on my Frontier box remotely. (Maybe this is the next Control Panel Add-In that I do…)

Residency rank list done, stress just beginning.

So, as a stress reliever, I installed a newer, higher-quality QuesoCam today. Have a peek, if you dare.

Baxter is about to embark on in vivo trials of pig organs as transplants. It’s fascinating, but more fascinating is that they’ve already used pig livers external to the body as filters, bridging the time until a suitable human liver can be found.

It’s not how I would resolve a dispute, but…

What a coincidence (pronounced coe-ink-ee-dink): Dell moves their website to Win2K, and I’m installing Win2K on my Dell. Whoa.

So Virginia legislators are moving oral sex from the world of felonies to a misdemeanor. The next things to lose their felony status in Virginia: working on Sunday, eating anything but fish on Friday, not saying grace before dinner…

There is a major change in functionality introduced in Internet Information Server 5.0 (the version of IIS that comes with Windows 2000) that may affect your ability to run Frontier as a webserver.

The Feature

IIS 5.0 has a new feature named socket pooling which it uses on machines which have multiple IP addresses. Essentially, when socket pooling is turned on, IIS will grab every IP address on the machine, even if it is explicitly configured to not use one or more of those addresses. The reason that it does so is explained in a technology note about IIS:

In IIS 4.0, each Web site was bound to a different IP address, which meant that each site had its own socket that was not shared with sites bound to other IP addresses. These sockets are created when the site starts, and they consume significant non-paged memory (RAM). This memory consumption limits the number of sites bound to IP addresses that can be created on a single machine.
For IIS 5.0, this process has been modified so that sites bound to different IP addresses, but sharing the same port number, share the same set of sockets. The end result is that more sites can be bound to an IP address on the same machine than in IIS 4.0. In IIS 5.0, these shared sockets are used flexibly among all of the started sites, thus reducing resource consumption.

The Problem

What does this mean for you, the Fronter web developer? If you intend to set up your IIS 5.0 machine with two or more IP addresses, and have IIS bound to port 80 on all but one address while putting Frontier on port 80 on that remaining one, then socket pooling will prevent Frontier from being able to bind to that last IP address — IIS will still be bound to it. In order to allow Frontier to bind to that IP address, you have to turn off socket pooling, and you also have to set up Frontier to only bind to the intended address.

The IIS configuration side of things

First, you need to make sure that IIS is configured to leave the IP address alone that you want to use for Frontier.

  1. Open up the Internet Services Manager (from your Administrative Tools program group), and go to the Default Web Site for your machine. Right click on it, and bring up the site Properties.
  2. On the first tab (Web Site), under Web Site Identification, make sure that the IP Address is not set to “(All Unassigned)”. (This gives IIS every IP address on the machine except those explicitly assigned to other IIS web sites.) Instead, from the pulldown list, choose a specific IP address, and not the IP address that you want Frontier to use.
  3. If you want IIS to use multiple IP addresses, click on the Advanced button, and enter all of the IP addresses into the Multipl identities for this Web Site box.
  4. Click OK to close all of the dialog boxes back to the Internet Services Manager, and then close the Internet Services Manager as well.

Now, you need to turn off IIS 5.0 socket pooling. There’s a Microsoft Knowledge Base article (Q238131) that describes how to do that; I’ll recap here. (Note the conditions at the top of the KB article that describe Microsoft’s recommendations for situations in which it is appropriate or inappropriate to disable socket pooling.)

  1. Make sure that you’re logged into your machine as an administrator-level account, and bring up a command prompt. Change to the IIS adminscripts directory (default: C:inetpubadminscripts).
  2. Type the following:
    cscript adsutil.vbs set w3svc/disablesocketpooling true
  3. You should get back a reply:
    disablesocketpooling : (BOOLEAN) True
  4. Open the Services… control window (from your Administrative Tools program group), and scroll down to the IIS Admin Service. Stop and start it. (It will tell you that it also has to stop your WWW and FTP services, if you’ve got them both running; let it do that.)
  5. Restart your World Wide Web Publishing Service (and your FTP Publishing Service, if you had it running before).

The Frontier configuration side of things

In order to set Frontier up to only use one IP address, you have to be running version 6.2a5 or greater. For Userland customers with current support contracts, the alpha version and docs are available on their support website. Once installed and updated, you need to configure Frontier to only use the single intended IP address:

  1. Open up the user.inetd.config.http table.
  2. Add a new object named ip, a string, and set its value to the IP address that you would like Frontier to use.
  3. Quit and restart Frontier.

That’s it — now, Frontier should be using its IP address, and IIS 5.0 should be using the ones that you configured it to take. Check your Windows Event Logs for any errors, lest we messed something up here.


If you have any comments, corrections, additions, or updates on this technote, please either mail me or post a reply in the Discussion Group (the preferred method!) by logging in and typing away.

Happy Valentine’s Day, Hallmark holiday of all Hallmark holidays!

I made a slight change to the Cascading Style Sheet for Q today; it may mean that, all of a sudden, things look different than they did before. (I was specifying certain font sizes absolutely before, so they didn’t scale with the font size setting; they’re now relative. I didn’t know that Netscape supported percentage-based font sizes, or I would have done this long ago.)

New Frontier technote: Internet Information Server 5.0 and Frontier. (IIS 5.0 is the version that comes with Windows 2000, and there’s a little catch to it when using it with Frontier’s webserver.)

Seen on null means null today: “Zero is the great unifier. One apple and one 1979 Buick are very different entities, but no apple and no 1979 Buick are frighteningly similar.”

How cool is this — the NEAR satellite is now the first artificial satellite orbiting an asteroid. It’s also very cool to me that an object the size of Manhattan has enough of a gravitational pull to keep something in orbit. UPDATE: the first image is now back from NEAR since beginning to orbit Eros.

I dunno if it’s intended synergy, but when I was on hold with the Microsoft Developer Network customer support group today, the music I heard was the Peanuts theme song. (Sidenote: that link is the single best MIDI soundfile I’ve heard — that’s what MIDI should sound like, rather than the usual imitation of a five-year-old plinking around on an out-of-tune piano.)

Re: the efforts I mentioned yesterday by residents of Pitcairn Island to control their own top-level domain (.pn): ICANN has a copy of the letter signed by all of the residents which they sent to ask for their domain back, and apparently, when ICANN was given control Friday of all top-level domain delegation, they finally granted the .pn domain to its rightful owners. Wired also has a story on it today, which mentions another similar conflict — the .as domain (representing American Samoa) is controlled by an expatriate living in the U.S., not the territory’s government.

My brain didn’t make the connection between the hideous redesign of and and fact that AOL will soon own CNN and does own Netscape, the only browser with which CNN apparently tested their hideous redesign. (Have I mentioned that it’s hideous?) Perhaps it’s because I’m also a small flywheel in the machine that blinds CNN to the Internet reality.

Up until now, I’ve mainly been an Urban Fetch kind of a guy, but I’m also a Starbucks kind of a guy, which means I may have to become a kind of a guy. Now, if they’ll deliver me a grande vanilla latte

herman miller aeron chair

Yesterday, my roommate took shipment of his brand spankin’ new Aeron chair, and I had instant envy. Beautiful, ergonomic, and much better then the kitchen table chair I use at my desk; within a few hours, I had ordered my own, and it should be here within a few weeks. (Tip: order it from First-time customers get a $100 off their first order of $500 or more, there’s free shipping, and no tax, at least not for New York purchases.)

*whimper* Charles Schulz died last night, at the age of 77. He will be missed immensely.

Funny — the Shuttle had a Y2K problem today… on a Hasselblad camera.

I dunno — when it’s this cold out, it feels strange to know that pitchers and catchers start reporting to training camp today (Cubs today, Mets on Tuesday, all 30 teams by next weekend). On the other hand, it makes it feel a little warmer out just thinking about sitting in the upper deck of Yankee Stadium watching the Bronx Bombers on a lazy weekend afternoon…

This is a spooky report. It’s an official recommendation from the IANA about redelegating the top-level domain for Pitcairn Island (top-level domain .pn) — apparently, in mid-1997, it was delegated to two people who shouldn’t have gotten it. Shortly thereafter, the government of Pitcairn, as well as the Minister in the British government who handles territories of the UK, asked for the delegation to be fixed. The scary part is that, as far as I can tell, the delegation is still in the wrong hands; this report, from this month (two-plus years after it all started, and countless official pleas for correction later), concludes that the redelegation should take place, but it doesn’t appear to have taken place.

last updated:

There’s an excellent tutorial on writing an #objectNotFoundHandler written by Samuel Reynolds, but it only covers the mainResponder website framework, upon which Manila was built. The problem is that Manila has its own #objectNotFoundHandler, and it adds functionality to Manila (rather than just generating the error that someone would see if they went to a page that didn’t exist).

What functionality does it add? Manila has the ability for the admin to configure an XML-based hierarchy for his or her site, so that messages and stories can be lumped into tree-like structures despite being messages in the (flat-file organized) discussion group. So, on this site, is a link to the master page of everything configured in the XML hierarchy as within the “photos” category, and is actually just a link to message number 72 rendered in a story template.

Of course, there’s no object in my Manila website guest database that is named “photos”, so when you request, there’s nothing in the database location there, and the webserver fires off the #objectNotFoundHandler. In Manila, that handler then checks the XML hierarchy to see if there’s a category named “photos”, and if there is, it sends you to the right page; only if there’s nothing in the hierarchy that matches your request do you get an error page.

So, if you want to write your own #objectNotFoundHandler, you need to take into account that the default Manila one has functionality that you don’t want to lose. The way that I’ve discovered to do this is to wrap the default Manila one in a try statement; that way, if there’s truly an error, you catch the scriptError that’s thrown by the hierarchy-checking script, and can call your own custom error page or script in the else clause.

My #objectNotFoundHandler script looks like this:

local {
	pta = html.getPageTableAddress()};
try {
	return (manilaSuite.hierarchyPage ())}
else {
	if tryError beginsWith "!" { // custom error or redirect message
	else {

Two notes:

  • I’ve got a script in my Manila website #tools table named pageNotFound that generates my custom error page; that’s what I’m calling with the pta^.tools^.pageNotFound() line.
  • The script that’s called by Manila’s default #objectNotFoundHandler, manilaSuite.hierarchyPage(), throws scriptError conditions for some things that aren’t necessarily indications that the requested page doesn’t exist. (For example, if you were to request, without the trailing slash, it would throw a scriptError that would redirect your browser to, with the trailing slash.) That’s why I need to test the tryError to see what it contains; if it has a leading exclamation point (!), then it’s a condition that’s intended to be handled by mainResponder (like a redirect), so I continue to pass it along with the scriptError call. Otherwise, I call my custom error page.

eros asteroid from near satellite

Ahhhh, lazy Saturday (after being out way too late).

I don’t know how I missed this one, but the Astronomy Picture of the Day site had a cool image of the asteroid Eros, as seen from the NEAR satellite on its approach to the asteroid. The NEAR mission is very neat — the intention is that the satellite will become the first artificial moon of an asteroid, and monitor it. (The APOD site has great picture of a natural moon of an asteroid, though.)

I implemented a new error page for my site today — click here to try it. I also wrote a short note about some Manila-specific issues with custom error pages in Frontier; if you’ve got a Manila site and want a custom error page, it’ll help. (It is the result of a quick and clear discussion with Brent Simmons in the Frontier support discussion group.)

Any cat owner will tell you that this should not have a patent — we all do it, and have been doing it for decades.

While I agree that not being able to uninstall IE 5.5 is a problem, there’s a basic maxim at work here — if you don’t want to face such problems, don’t install beta software. Problems like this with beta software are a fact of life, and it’s the beta cycle that helps point out these problems, and get them fixed in the final shipping product. So instead of running to ZDNet complaining, report it back to Microsoft.

As if we needed any more evidence that Jesse Helms is racist swine. Despite that, though, I feel that Clinton probably could play a little tougher on the issue of race on the Federal Court level; if he made this an issue (and when better than in the last year of his presidency?), something good could come of it.

I really do feel compelled to assume that the Aluminum Foil Deflector Beanie (AFDB for short) is a joke site, but I can’t be sure of that. If it’s not, then conspiracy theorists need to stop dropping acid. (I apologize for the Tripod popup window.)

Although… seeing as the current Shuttle mission involves radar topography, perhaps they’re also sending out some mind control signals from that radar, and we all should be wearing our AFDBs, lest we end up voting for Dubya.

(Note: I really did want to point that last Dubya link to the real George W. Bush for President page, but going there throws up a popup window, and I hate them. So instead, you get the parody page.)

Judging from the heavy demand on the live webcast page, I’m not the only one that watches and listens to NASA TV whenever the Shuttle is up.

Manila is growing itself up into a full-fledged content management system…. custody is a great new feature.

I reported a bug today to the Mozilla group, on this page not drawing in correctly with its CSS-implemented borders. It’s bug 27492.

This is the text of an email that I sent to Larry Vitatoe ( today regarding his company, Passport Access, and their practice of crawling the web for resumes, entering them into their database, and then charging clients to search and retrieve them.


Thank you for hearing me out on the phone today. I wanted to follow up with this email, explaining how it is that your company is violating *major* laws and copyright statutes with the I-Spy Technology, and specifically, that there is absolutely no requirement for a copyright symbol or registration of copyright for a work to be copyrighted — thus, the mere act of you selling that resume to a client of yours is a violation of U.S. Copyright code, and punishable as such.

So, my basic complaint: Passport Access, by using a webcrawler to search out resumes that have not specifically been entered into their database and entering them, is violating a MAJOR tenet of United States copyright law. Every one of those resumes is protected by copyright, and each time you sell one to a client, you are committing a Federal offense. And the

Here are two specific, on-point references to copyright law in this situation, and one good reference for you:

How to Secure Copyright, from the US Copyright Office:

Explains that copyright is affixed to a work automatically upon creation; no notification or registration is required.

Copyright Infringement in Cyberspace:

Explains particular appliations of copyright law on the Internet

Chapter 5 of the U.S. Copyright Code:

Explains the specifics of copyright infringement, including penalties. Note that, according to the law, what you are doing is both a Federal civil and a Federal *criminal* offense (see section 506a); that you could have every hard disk and computer that could store the infringed material impounded by Federal marshalls (sections 503, 509); that you could be fined up $100,000 *per violation* (section 504(c)(1)); and that you will be responsible for all civil action legal fees incurred by each person who sues (section 505).

Note that the $100,000 maximum fine is contingent on committing the infringement knowingly; this email takes care of any argument to the contrary.

Please pass this on to the people who you claim would be able to handle this matter. I expect a reply from you; this is a very serious matter.

Thank you in advance.

Jason Levine

Queso Technologies

From MetaFilter comes a warning that there are at least two online resume collection companies, Passport Access and Aquent, who are employing spiders and webcrawlers to find resumes on people’s websites, suck them into their databases, and then sell them to clients. This is a major, flagrant violation of U.S. Copyright law — you hold copyright on your resume, whether or not you indicate so with a little © symbol, and for them to take it and sell it is a Federal offense. I spoke with someone at Passport Access, and here is the text of an email (with copyright law links) that I sent as a followup to our discussion.

I just got a call from John Malone at Passport Access, and they seem to understand the issue, as of now. He is forwarding my email onto their IP lawyers, and will keep me informed as to the response they get. He also said that if anyone wishes to express their opinions on this, they can either email Larry Vitatoe at or call (888) 425-2816.

Wow… a high school basketball player in San Antonio has been sentenced to five years in prison for elbowing an opponent during a game. The longer version: he was on probation for two counts of burglary, and after elbowing the opponent, he was charged with aggravated assault. The sentence was not directly related to the probation, though; aggravated assault alone carries a two to 20 year sentence.

Makes me shudder to think about the potential precedent this sets; if I’m an NBA player, I’m scared to play in San Antonio now, lest my flagrant foul land me in prison. And how about someone like Latrell Spreewell, who choked his coach hard enough to leave brusies?

The insurer for Who Wants to Be A Millionaire, Goshawk, is suing to get out of their contract with the game show, claiming that the show is too generous — they want harder questions and dumber contestants.


Remember the judges who prevented APBNews from getting access to all of the federal judicial financial disclosure forms? Well, it turns out that months before this, they let USA Today have even more than APBNews asked for.

Re CNN’s site redesign and unreadability on Internet Explorer: if you read through their Technical message board (which is what they are telling people to use to report the problem), it appears that they never tested the redesign on Internet Explorer. There are more than one problem that appear on IE, but don’t on Netscape; this seems like a boneheaded testing scheme, seeing as IE has around 75% of the browser market. (That link may not work in the future; StatMarket has decided to go to a subscription service.)

(Note that I’m not trying to make this into another Netscape v. Internet Explorer thing. Instead, this is a usability thing, and it should be a big concern for websites that depend on having users. A site should, at a bare minimum, be usable on all browsers, even if all the baubles and tinsel don’t work properly.)


As a follow-up to the note a few days ago about the Orange County school district trying to ban a student group dealing with gay-straight outreach issues, the school is now on the cusp of banning all school groups just so they can legally prevent the students from meeting. In the wisdom of Dilbert: “People are idiots who deserve to be mocked.”

Hello to all the readers sent here from Neale Talbot’s Wetlog — and thanks to Neale for the virtual shout out, as it were.

And finally, the original, non-abbreviated version of the Wazzup commercial.

Brent got an answer from CNN re: their itty bitty font size; they must value him slightly more than me, since I wrote them and complained on the message board that they tell him to use, and I have got a big fat nothing from them about it. Anyhoo, they told Brent to increase his font size; they must be joking, that people are going to change their browser setup just to look at their site. Whatevers.

And to answer a question on John Auterman’s site, yes, I believe the common thread between Brent, Dave, and myself is that we all use Internet Explorer, and we all have our font size set to “small” (not “smallest”, just “small”). And CNN’s site sucks, whereas it used to look fine, and almost every other site still looks fine. (And a sincere thank you to John — his site has bookmark links for each day, so that the above link will bring you to the right place, at least as long as it is on the front page. I’ll still have to change the link when it rotates off of the front page, though.)

The Cincinnati city council has officially invited Pete Rose to the city’s celebration of the 1975 Reds World Series championship team. They also proposed banning Bud Selig from the affair, but it would have no legal standing. Excellent.

I’m sooooo jealous of Steve Tannehill — someone sent him a copy of the Academy Screener of Magnolia on DVD. I want it I want it I want it!

An interesting little ditty by an author who found some personal letters of hers for sale by an online bookstore, apparently sold to it by a former graduate school advisor.

And, a glimpse of John McCain that makes all those memories of the dirty Presidential campaign of 1988 flood back. (Although I am somewhat hesitant to point to this now, since I want McCain to kick the crap out of Dubya so that I don’t have to keep looking at his talentless face anymore, or at least for four more years…)

As predicted, the Afghan airline hijacking has ended without bloodshed and with the surrender of the hijackers. A much better ending than the one last month.

Remember the cool Astro-E satellite that I wrote about a few days ago? Well, it was put into the wrong orbit, making it unusable. Interestingly, none of the major news sources had this story for hours; instead, they had a story that it was launched successfully. MSNBC now has the story. (For all I know, CNN has the story as well, but since their redesign has left them totally unreadable on my computer, I wouldn’t know.)

The Onion: NFL Star Thanks Jesus After Successful Double Homicide. Summarizes my feeling about expressions of religious thanks after winning a sports game…

David Theige, the man behind MedEd News (a great daily medical education news site), has a a pretty on-point note today reviewing Manila. I could not agree with him more about the search engine; it took me over a week to get my search engine set up, and it would be cool if it just installed out-of-the-box.

adobe q

Lots ‘o fun playing with Adobe’s new free web services today; I particularly like the banner maker. And the photo frame tool at Creative Pro is something I will have to play more with; I always see beautiful framing on online pictures and get jealous.

Hee hee hee, I bet this won’t make eToys’ stock do any better.

Today, I was sitting in class at med school, listening to a lecture on medical economics, and I realized that drug companies have been doing for decades what people are really upset about Internet companies doing now — using patents to leverage an advantage over competition. And while, as an almost-doctor, I don’t like the fact that certain medications cost a lot more than they should merely because they’re on-patent, I have grown to accept that that’s the price we pay for biomed companies working hard to come out with newer and better medications or stents or whatever. I think that I feel the same way about Amazon and the 1-Click shopping patent — they worked hard to implement something that hadn’t ever been done before (despite Richard Stallman’s arguments otherwise), and maybe they’re entitled to protection of their intellectual and technological work, for a while at least.

Chuck Taggart has an excellent quote on Looka today, as a reaction to a California GOP “prayer breakfast” in which gay marriage was equated to Nazi Germany:

Let’s see … gay marriage = a long-term, committed same-sex couple wanting to legally formalize their monogamous relationship for the rest of their lives, also entitling them to (among other things) insurance benefits, inheritance rights, and the right to visit one another in the hospital. Nazi Germany = a fascist regime that triggered World War II in Europe, caused the death of tens of millions of people, including the systematic slaughter of six million Jews and another five million Slavs, Gypsies and … homosexuals. Um, right.

(As an aside, I have no idea why the issue of discrimination based on sexual orientation gets to me; I think that it’s because, given that I grew up in relatively intolerant San Antonio, Texas, my first real exposure to anyone that I knew was gay was in college, and specifically, was in a class on civil rights taught by Jack Greenberg, former head of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund. Many parallels were drawn during that class, and whenever I read about gatherings like the above-mentioned prayer meeting, I get vivid mental flashes of the images from the civil rights movement, of adults and children being attacked, gassed, hosed, and killed, and realize that even today, we’re not as far removed from that atmosphere as we’d like to think we are.)

CNN changed fonts and sizes on their home page two days ago, and it is now totally unreadable. I sent them a message about it via their Feedback page, and posted a message to their technical message board (as have other people), but they seem pretty unresponsive. Oh, well — there’s always MSNBC, which looks better and generally has more news.

The full text of a story that just came across our AP News Wire: “Cowhide heavy Native Spot is .76 3/4.” What on Earth does that mean?

all the go logos

At Least the Disney Lawyers Can’t Win Everything: I thought that the Go Network logo had changed recently, and I remembered a flap about GoTo.Com suing Go Network (Disney) for trademark infringement. GoTo.Com first used their logo in December 1997; Disney started the beta test of the Go Network, with the logo, in December 1998. In November of last year, a judge prohibited Disney from continuing to use the logo, but the injunction was suspended quickly pending a three-judge panel ruling (and in the face of a complaint by Disney that it would cost them $40 million to change it, like anyone feels sorry for them). The ruling came down on January 28th, reinstating the injunction against Disney. (Above, the leftmost logo is GoTo.Com, the middle is the Go Network’s old logo, and the rightmost is the new one.)

In reading the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals decision in GoTo.Com v. Disney, it strikes me how sleazy Disney was in their attempt to get to continue using the logo.

  • Disney claimed that GoTo.Com wasn’t really harmed, seeing as they are doing well as a company (something completely irrelevant to a trademark dispute);
  • Disney submitted their logo to the Patent and Trademark Office in black-and-white, rather than color, and then tried to convince the court with the fact that the PTO didn’t see a similarity in the logos;
  • Disney argued that GoTo.Com lost their ability to sue when they waited until July 1999 to request an injunction, when in fact, Disney had entered into talks with GoTo.Com over the logo in February 1999 with a binding agreement that Disney could not raise the issue of a delayed injunction;
  • Disney claimed that GoTo.Com altered its logo to make it more like the Go Network one in an attempt to win the suit (most people who remember the days before Disney’s Internet presence know this to be untrue);
  • Disney argued that it would be extremely difficult for them to change their logo, when in fact, they managed to implement a change to their whole website for the two days between the original injunction and the suspension of the injunction.

Maybe some of this is typical for civil defense arguments, but it’s still pretty sleazy.

all the go logos

At Least the Disney Lawyers Can’t Win Everything: Disney has been prohibited from using their green traffic light logo, since it’s too similar to the logo of GoTo.Com. The decision points out a plethora of sleazy things Disney argued to try to prevent this.

Two more legal items:

  • Why does the Orange County Unified School District want to prevent a gay-straight alliance school group from meeting? I didn’t realize that this degree of intolerance existed in relatively civilized Los Angeles.
  • Why do people keep alluding that ThirdVoice and uTOK are doing something illegal? If I, as a user, choose to download an application and use it to add content to all of my web page requests, then it seems like I should be free to do that. (That’s exactly what the John Malkovich Mediator does, and there are other services that do things like help visually impaired web users with graphic-heavy sites.) Why you would want to use ThirdVoice or uTOK is a whole different matter…

It’s completely ridiculous that Pete Rose cannot participate in the 25 year anniversary celebration of the 1975 Cincinnati Reds World Series championship team. Bud Selig needs to be ousted, now — he’s the one that’s making baseball look terrible.

AdCritic now has the SuperFriends Wazzup commercial on their site, for those of you who couldn’t get to the original site before it was swamped with traffic.

Slate’s new Bushism of the Week:

I think we need not only to eliminate the tollbooth to the middle class, I think we should knock down the tollbooth.

I decided to listen to this past weekend’s Car Talk via the web, and a caller asked a question that sounds exactly like my old car. A Volvo GL diesel stationwagon, and I could completely envelop someone following me too closely in a cloud of black smoke. Great way to deal with tailgaters.

This editorial by Ed Foster echos my sentiments on AllAdvantage.Com (and companies like Epidemic.Com), but I’m not wholeheartedly recommending a page read — when I went to the page, InfoWorld.Com decided to throw a full-motion, full-audio ad on the top for Windows 2000. By the time the ad had loaded, I was already a few screens into the article; I had to figure out what was making my computer spout ads at me, page up a bit, and find the itty-bitty, vertically-oriented stop button to make the damn thing quit. That was the last page I will read on their site, unless I get a response to the email I sent Laura Wonnacott explaining that this was just an oversight on their part, and that things like this won’t continue on their site.

I somehow missed Salon’s excellent article on The Simpsons vs. Having abandoned regular Usenet reading long ago in the face of the spammers and pornographers, I didn’t catch any of the references in the show; this puts them in perspective, and it’s all actually quite funny.

Wow — the U.S. and Japan are about to launch the Astro-E satellite, with a sensor that has to be cooled to 0.060 Kelvin (-460 degrees Fahrenheit), making it “the coldest object in space.” Nasa has a press release that has a basic explanation of the cooling system — solid neon, liquid nitrogen, and paramagnetic crystals with a powerful superconducting magnet. (Pet peeve: the Kelvin scale doesn’t use the term “degrees”, and the science fact-checker at CNN should probably know that sort of thing.)

Quick note to the GOP: despite my disagreements with you, if David Duke disapproves of how you’re running the party, then something must be right…

Not too long ago, Phil and I were discussing the cool first-and-ten line that all the major networks are adding into their broadcasts of football games. I just learned that the New York Times explained the technology in their Circuits section. (I saw a TV piece on this not too long ago, but it mentioned something about GPS receivers and sideline placements as well; I wonder if there are other technologies that were tested and passed over.)

Ummmmmm… does anyone want to explain this to me? Or perhaps this?

The people who hijacked an Afghan airplane have probably made a big mistake — this isn’t going to be like the end of the hijacking last month in Afghanistan. They’re in England now; they aren’t going to be allowed to take back off, and they definitely aren’t going to be allowed to drive away scot-free.

A few days back, I pointed to The John Malkovich Mediator. Yesterday, I decided to write my own mediator. (What is a mediator, you ask? Here’s a good answer, with examples of some.) My mediator just sits between a user and a webserver, and returns the website to the user essentially intact. I’ll release the code for it relatively soon; there are bugs to be worked out first.

A must-see, if only to wonder if it’s real or not: the Vulvabed. In particular, check out the letter from a satisfied customer.

ICK…. a woman has apparently been killed at my alma mater, and the person who they think did it, allegedly her boyfriend, killed himself by jumping in front of a subway a few hours later. My sister lived in the dorm in which this all happened. ICK.

For those of you who are Frontier programmers: I’m having a problem with tcp.httpClient, and would appreciate any light you could shed on it…

Never mind! It turns out that two sites that I was contacting don’t generate valid HTTP — they put newlines only between the lines of the HTTP response, rather than carriage return/newline combinations, which are required by spec (see chapter 6). I hate that webbrowsers just gloss over invalid HTTP, not even alerting you that something’s not right.

Kurt Vonnegut is slowly recovering.

Ask for DOJ involvement in the computer industry, and ye shall receive.

I wonder if Dave has given his employees digital cameras. I should visit all their Manila sites and see — I’ve worked with some of them enough that it’s probably time to know what they look like!

Today, I received an email from a friend with what she said was the first great quote of the Millennium: Monica Lewinsky, ostensibly on Larry King Live, talking about her Jenny Craig diet, saying “I’ve learned not to put things in my mouth that are bad for me.” The problem is, I then went looking for the transcript from that show, and she never said that.

Miramax disinvited over 80 Internet movie reviewers from screenings of Scream 3, fearing that an Internet reviewer would be more likely to give away the ending. What, that the whole series is overrated? (Besides, the Internet reviewers feed what seems to me to be the exact target audience of the movie — young, media-savvy, slightly addictible, and with enough money to see the movie.)

This week, the enormous ISP Verio tried to trademark the term whois, and failed. Makes me think twice about ever doing business with them; then again, after my experience with their crack security team, I wasn’t really ever going to use their services.

The Supreme Court granted a stay in an Alabama execution last night. When was the last time they did that?

Today ends my visits to pediatrics residency programs for interviews or second-looks; I now have no excuse for not putting together my rank list and turning it in to the National Residency Match Program. (It’s due February 16th.)

Having spent the last two months in airplanes, I could not be happier with this.

In the Something-You-Don’t-See-On-TV-Often department: in the swimsuit competition of the Miss USA pageant, you could clearly tell that Miss Iowa had two supernumerary nipples. Freaky to see on national television.

Dubya speaks at a school that has banned interracial dating. I’m sorry, I’ve just got to say it — what a pig. (Of course, Steve Forbes and Alan Keyes are both scheduled to speak there, as well — but I feel the same way about them.)

Why would a black man (Keyes) speak at a university that banned black admissions, then banned admission of unmarried black people, then (under court order) let in unmarried black people but banned interracial relationships, and took their right to remain a tax-exempt organization (under religious pretenses) all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court? (They lost, by the way.)

And it turns out the Bushism of the Week is a regular feature on Slate! This week’s:

This is Preservation Month. I appreciate preservation. It’s what you do when you run for president. You gotta preserve.

And from two weeks ago (I couldn’t resist):

The administration I’ll bring is a group of men and women who are focused on what’s best for America, honest men and women, decent men and women, women who will see service to our country as a great privilege and who will not stain the house.

Pure genius: the Budweiser “Wazzup” commercial, but done with the Superfriends. (If you haven’t seen the Wazzup commercial, there’s an abbreviated version here.)

AdCritic is awesome — your favorite commercials, as QuickTime movies. Some of my present faves: EDS and the cat herders, Ruffles and Mark Messier, Adidas and the El Duque, Mountain Dew and the bad cheetah, BMW and cliff diving, and a relative oldie, Kahkis Swing.

One more AdCritic link — a Volkswagon commercial, with a friend of mine from college. (She’s the one driving the car, expertly applying the anti-lock brakes.)

hubble carina nebula image

Another cool image from the Hubble Space Telescope, but this one’s not from the newly-refurbished equipment, but rather a composite of four April 1999 images. It’s of the Keyhole Nebula, and it’s just plain coooooooool.

An interesting article on why people stay with AOL, instead of switching to a less-expensive ISP with unengineered web access. (It also mentions EarthLink’s new ad campaign that took me a while to understand — the big orange billboards with opposing email addresses, like “” and “”.)

I always suspected as much, but now research shows that anesthetized surgery patients remember things said during their operations. I hate to think about the effects of some of the things that surgeons said during operations when I was doing my surgery and subspecialty clerkships…

Also on the medical front, a controversy is brewing in Britain and Scotland over two men who asked for healthy limbs to be amputated, and had it done. They both suffer from body dysmorphic disorder, a psychiatric disorder where they obsess over perceived imperfections in their bodies.

I read The Onion regularly, but something I’ve neglected is The Landover Baptist Church, a hilarious spoof of evangelical religion that plays like The Onion a lot of the time. This week: Charitable Baptists Donate Hazardous Waste To The Poor As Tax Year Draws To A Close. (The guestbook is awesome as well — tons of people who clearly either don’t understand that the site is a parody, or are horribly offended that it’s a parody of religion. For a good laugh, see Jessica’s entry on January 22, 2000.)

Lots of new discoveries in the dinosaur artifact world — the Rio Negro Giant (estimated to be 160 feet long and 45 feet tall), and a 100 to 130 foot long sauropod from 32 million years after paleontologists thought that they had gone extinct. (The latter was found in Texas; as a kid, we would always take field trips to streams and parks with huge dinosaur prints and other remnants, and I couldn’t believe how huge these things had been.)

my iron giant

I moved back into my office today, and first on the list of things to do was set up my 20-inch-tall motorized Iron Giant robot, complete with magnetic Hogarth to hang out on his shoulder and activate him. For a few days, the QuesoCam will feature the big guy… catch him while you can!

I have to say, I pretty much agree that eBay should pull KKK items down from auction. There’s a social responsibility here, and eBay has always been of the mindset that they don’t have to allow everything to be auctioned; seeing this being auctioned (and apparently, at one point it was in the “Black Americana” category, as were other Klan items from the same seller), or this, this, this, or this and this (which the seller suggests you should continue to wear!) just nauseates me. Quite honestly, let racist swine start their own auction site.

Yesterday, I pointed to Jason Kottke asking why up and down aren’t flipped in a mirror, since left and right are; today, Andre relates a Richard Feynman answer. The web is a wonderful place.

From the annals of websites that scare me: A Woman’s Guide on How to Pee Standing Up.

Apparently, you better visit New Orleans soon, because it won’t be there for long.

The Senate has acted to prevent bankruptcy determinations from freeing people of debts owed due to court judgments against them. This makes a great deal of sense to me — an abortion protester shouldn’t be able to claim that he can’t be held financially responsible for court judgments because he has a lot of debt due to other court judgments. (I admit, though, that I’m not 100% positive that I understand everything that this article is talking about; I feel that I need a little more background.)

My Windows 2000 machines at home still don’t want to play nice with each other, and it’s come to Microsoft tech support setting up an entire network which duplicates ours in order to try to figure out what’s going on. Something’s amiss; we think that it’s related to NetBIOS scope IDs, which we use in places on our network. More later.

In this article, I don’t understand the statement “Under an agreement worked out with the prosecution, she expressed remorse for the attack and was released without punishment or a criminal record.” Let me get this straight — they were prosecuting a supermodel for assaulting an assistant, and managed to squeak out a deal where she admitted she did it in return for no punishment at all?

Back in NYC today, returning to the swing of med school and dealing with a strange Windows 2000 problem where my two machines cannot see each other on the network (but can see every other non-Win2K machine, and all the non-Win2K machines can see them).

Interesting — the problem was a subnet mask on an alternate IP address of one network card on my subnet. It’s fixed now. (Whoops! Spoke too soon. It’s now intermittent, but mostly NOT working. I have NO clue on this one; neither do the MS techs that I’m working with.)

Jason Kottke asked a question today that has actually kept me awake at night — “When you look at yourself in a mirror, everything is reversed from left to right and from right to left. Why aren’t you upside down as well?” To me, it’s sorta like “If the universe is expanding, what is it expanding into?”

Sean Elliott receives the final OK to practice with the San Antonio Spurs. If he makes this comeback, I will be the happiest man alive — what a major milestone.

MSNBC reports on something that should be pretty evident — oral sex, in and of itself, isn’t safe sex.

Excellent diatribe on Lotus Domino today over at Qube Quorner. A good summary tagline: “Who doesn’t like Domino? Anyone who has to use it every day, whether they be a busy sysadmin or a busy user.”

The Center for Democracy & Technology has put together a page that helps you not only opt-out of DoubleClick’s profiling, but also mail the largest DoubleClick affiliates and the CEO of DoubleClick letting them know that their behavior is unacceptable.

Yay! A bug in Frontier 6.1’s search engine routines has been fixed. This bug didn’t cause me any problems, really, but when I had other problems, the errors that it kicked out did make things hard to figure out.

Another active NFL player has been charged with murder. Finally, the NFL gets a great Super Bowl, and on the same night, gets this black eye…

ZDNet has an interesting story about scams run through X.Com and WingSpan, two online banks. Apparently, you could open an account with either and transfer money into it using just the routing code printed at the bottom of a check — and they didn’t have any checks in place to make sure it was your check. Who is in charge of security at places like that?