new york street fair

You know that spring has sprung in New York City when you wake up to a street fair outside your building… ahhhh, happiness.

Michael J. Hammel has a good column about the necessity of rigorous software testing on Linsider this week. This has been my standard response to the open source vs. big company issue — some people choose to be able to fix, on their own, any problem they discover, whereas I prefer to leave those fixes to companies with the resources to standardize and regression test them. It’s not a better/worse thing, it’s a difference thing.

I just got my April MSDN shipment, and with it came Interix 2.2. Does anyone know anything about this? It looks like it could be tres cool… but I know absolutely nothing about it.

In looking at my various logs this week, I have noticed port scans and random connection attempts from a static machine belonging to Williams/Gerard Productions, Inc. (warning — obnoxious Flash movie at that link). Anyone know what they do, or know people working there who feel that it’s a good thing to probe machines that don’t belong to them? Their upstream provider, AT&T, specifically prohibits this activity.

Interactive Week has a view that doesn’t seem too well-represented in the media right now — that Microsoft may have legitimate legal arguments to refute almost everything that Jackson decided. Certainly, in looking at Jackson’s decision, he is openly challenging the unanimous D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals verdict in 1995 which overturned Jackson’s earlier ruling; it will be interesting how this plays out in the higher courts (since it’s definitely headed there).

Every now and then, I read something that makes me sad. Today’s example: the following quote (emphasis added by me), from the New Jersey Chancery Court opinion that was the first step taken by Dale v. Boy Scouts of America on the road to the Supreme Court. On the notion of the difference between the criminality of homosexuality versus its morality:

The criminal law has changed. The moral law — as to the act of sodomy — has not. The numerous certifications submitted by various ministers, priests, and rabbis attest to that. Individual religious persons may distinguish between the moral culpability of a psychological tendency (perhaps innate) or sexual attraction to a person of the same sex, (a state of mind) but all religions deem the act of sodomy a serious moral wrong. The act is something deliberate and intentional; the thought might not be. An analogy with adultery and fornication is apt.

Later in the decision:

Human beings with homosexual tendencies or thoughts have existed since the beginning of the human race and undoubtedly will continue to exist until its end…. But when the tendency turns to action, the bible story of Sodom, the common law penal laws, the laws of New Jersey up until 1979 and universally held religious positions, condemn that act. Today in New Jersey the moral law as espoused by the major religions continues to declare the act of sodomy to be a serious wrong.

For a rights-affirming position, though, read the concurring opinion from Justice Handler of the New Jersey Supreme Court (you have to go about 2/3 of the way down that decision to get to Handler’s concurrence). He specifically condemns all of these nasty beliefs and assumptions, and essentially scolds the Chancery Court judge for his closemindedness.

Dennis Caron, the man I spoke about a few days ago who is pushing for changes in Ohio’s child support laws that would stop forcing a man to pay when a paternity test proves he is not the father, was jailed yesterday for failing to pay support. (He has been placing the money into an account each month, and has also taken a bond out against his home, in an effort to prove that he can pay but doesn’t feel he should.)

Another New York City livery cab driver was killed last night; this has become an epidemic in the city, and the police are scrambling to figure out who’s responsible and what to do about it.

Dan explains why Mississippi (and their flag) isn’t a target of the NCAA.

There are a lot of neat Flash cartoons at Joe Cartoon. (Most of them have a bit of (cartoon) gore, and probably won’t appeal to the animal activist in you…) Similarly, there’s a hurt-free Flash fishtank at T-Bone’s Stress Relief Aquarium.

Anthony Lewis has a damn good op-ed piece in today’s New York Times refuting most of the arguments that have been made regarding the legal status of the INS and DOJ in grabbing Elian out of the Miami home.

I wish people would do some friggin’ research before just buying what an article on the ‘net says. I have received a few links to this article, quoting a former New Jersey judge as saying that once the INS grants asylum to an alien, they lose all power to change guardians until the asylum claim is completed, and that Jeb Bush should file an indictment against Reno for kidnapping. The big problem: most of the claims are crap. My refutation:

And now, I can only assume that Time Magazine is in on the conspiracy of doctoring photos to show Elian and his father together.

How can Miami mayor Joe Carollo say that the departure of the city manager and chief of police had nothing to do with Elian’s removal? Regarding Carollo’s reaction to the raid, now-former police chief William O’Brien specifically said “I refuse to be the chief of police in a city that has someone as divisive and destructive as Joe Carollo as mayor.”

I’m glad to see that the fruits of genetic therapy are finally blooming — two infants born with severe combined immunodeficiency (a terrible disease that results in very early death) were given stem cells from normal bone marrow, and the result was fully-functioning immune systems. (The “bubble children” — kids who live in bubbles protecting them from environmental exposure — are kids with SCID, and the fact that science is giving them the ability to lead normal lives is a terrific advancement.)

I am also glad to read that the NCAA has stated it will move all events scheduled to be held in South Carolina out of the state if the Confederate flag is not removed from the Statehouse. Question, though: why didn’t it take the same stand against Mississippi, which also includes the Confederate emblem in its state flag?

Did people see the South Park episode Wednesday? It was all about the Elian raid, which shocked me, seeing as the raid happened three days before the show was on the air. AP has an article about how they managed to pull that off. If you didn’t see it, there’s a schedule of reruns available. (Thanks, Dan!)

Funny — Microsoft employees are selling the copies of Windows 2000 Advanced Server (the copies that they received free from the company) on eBay. Microsoft is trying to figure out what to do about it…

Baseball is exciting this year. Sunday, Yankees Bernie Williams and Jorge Posada each homered from both sides of the plate (the first time this has ever happened, if that’s a stat worth keeping); yesterday, White Sox shortstop Jose Valentin hit for the cycle in their victory over the Orioles. (Of course, that article fails to mention that it happened on the same day that Major League Baseball suspended seven White Sox members and fined two for participation in one of the biggest fights in baseball history.)

Yesterday, I wrote a short critique of Lawrence Tribe’s argument in his New York Times op-ed piece from earlier this week. I also emailed him, and got a reply back in which he clarified his position — his argument isn’t as untenable as the NYT piece made it seem. Tribe wrote me that he isn’t arguing that the warrant itself didn’t allow seizure of Elian, he’s arguing that the warrant was invalid, so no matter what it allowed, it wasn’t legitimate. The basis of his argument is that the warrant was issued to an agency of the Executive branch without a hearing (most warrants are issued without hearings, of course) to enforce an order of the Executive branch, which Tribe believes to be a major loss of oversight.

My argument back to him (and not just here, I emailed him back): while there was no direct oversight by another branch in this case, that is because Congress (the Legislative branch), in 8 USC 1252, has explicitly granted to the Attorney General and the INS broad powers to enforce their own orders and declarations without the need for additional case-specific oversight. As far as I can tell, this is not just a med student’s amateur reading of the law; the U.S. Supreme Court, in Reno v. Flores, upheld this interpretation of the statute, and specifically upheld it in the case where the INS is determining proper custody of a minor alien during determination of legal status.

UPDATE: I received email back from Tribe, saying “For a non-lawyer, you’ve made an awfully forceful argument. Have you considered switching careers or at least doubling up? I wish I had the time right now to explain why I disagree with you, but unfortunately I don’t. Good luck in your further research and in your medical pursuits.” (I debated strongly about putting this up here, since I don’t want it to come off as a strut or anything like that. I really wish that he had the time to explain his position better to me — I honestly want to know that side of the argument, since my argument on this point isn’t based on principle, but rather it’s based on how I read the law and precedent that exists. If I’m wrong, I want to know.)

The Washington Post has a detailed examination of the intelligence-gathering effort that the DOJ and the INS put on after the Miami family defied the order to surrender Elian. They detail the threats that were known to exist against any attempt to enforce that order, from a contingent of five bodyguards for the Miami family (all of whom had concealed weapons permits), to a group of felons who had taken up residence immediately behind the home to help with surveillance of any government activity, to members of an anti-Castro paramilitary group who were active in the crowd in front of the house.

The Supreme Court was amazing. The Justices (OK, everyone but Clarence Thomas) participated vigorously in the oral arguments in Boy Scouts of America v. Dale; for the most part, they appeared to be exploring ideas more than they were stating preconceived opinions, which was very nice to hear. The attorney for James Dale, Evan Wolfson, was incredibly articulate and had clearly done his homework (which is more than can be said for the attorney for the Boy Scouts, George Davidson, who dodged almost every difficult question posed to him).

I wish that I had found FindLaw’s Supreme Court docket before I had gone to D.C.; it has all of the amicus briefs filed in the Boy Scouts case, and I bet that there are some really scary arguments in some of them.

Dahlia Lithwick’s column on the arguments yesterday is available on Slate. In particular, I like her characterization of Davidson’s “rebuttal,” which legitimately left everyone in the room scratching their heads, assuming that he just didn’t want to subject himself to any more questioning from the bench.

Now, admittedly, I’m no legal expert, but I have lost a ton of respect for Lawrence Tribe after his New York Times op-ed piece contending that there was no legal right to grab Elian. To quote Tribe:

The Justice Department points out that the agents who stormed the Miami home were armed not only with guns but with a search warrant. But it was not a warrant to seize the child. Elián was not lost, and it is a semantic sleight of hand to compare his forcible removal to the seizure of evidence, which is what a search warrant is for.

Now, to quote from the warrant (bold emphasis added by me):

[On the premises of Lazaro Gonzalez’s house] there is now concealed a certain person or property, namely the person of of Elian Gonzalez, date of birth December 8, 1993, a native and citizen of Cuba… You are hereby commanded to search on or before 5-1-00 (not to exceed 10 days) the person or place named above for the person or property specified, serving this warrant and making the search… and if the person or property be found there to seize same

Seems to me that the warrant was clear that it was to seize Elian.

I am superbly glad to read both that Juan Miguel Gonzalez has filed to assert his rights as Elian’s father, and that the Dr. Pauline Kernberg has recommended that Elian’s Miami “relatives” should not be allowed to see him in their current angry state. More importantly, I am glad that the Eleventh Circuit has denied all of the requests made by the Miami family (that they, their doctors, and their lawyers all be given “regular and reasonable” access to Elian).

The only problem I have with Cam’s “Four Men in Hats” brainteaser: the answer assumes that the men know where each other are positioned, an assumption that’s never explicitly stated. In other words, the “Puzzle” paragraph needs to state that in addition to everything else, each knows where the others are situated. is suing Robert Smigel, writer for Conan O’Brien, saying that Triumph the Insult Comic Dog (a puppet dog that appears on Conan every now and then) is a rip-off of the ubiquitous dog. Unfortunately for them, Triumph first appeared in February 1997, when (I’d be willing to bet) hadn’t even been conceived as a company.

No updates for the next day and a half; I’m headed out the door to hop a plane to Washington D.C., to see oral arguments at the Supreme Court in Boy Scouts of America v. Dale. See you all when I return Thursday afternoon…

WOW. Nobel Literature prizewinner Gabriel Garcia Marquez wrote a phenomenal account of the Elian saga in mid-March, and even if you’ve overdosed on this issue, you should read it. In addition to many other points, he elucidates a thought that’s crossed my mind a few times, but I’ve never verbalized:

Nevertheless, the legal and historical loss could be far more costly for the United States than an electoral one, as more than 10,000 U.S. children are currently dispersed throughout various parts of the world, taken from their country by one of their parents without the authorization of the other. The gravity of the situation for them is that if the parents remaining in the United States wish to recover them, the precedent of Elian could be utilized to prevent it.

Eric Alterman is one of my new heros:

Think about it. This is a story that directly involves maybe a half-dozen people. There was no murder, no death, no physical harm done to anyone. The law, moreover, is not terribly complicated. Legally speaking, parents — even parents living in countries of which we do not approve — speak for their six-year-old children, period. If the media had not gotten hold of Elian in the first few days of his Florida arrival, he would have been shipped back to Cuba according to the law and that would have been that.

Likewise, Michael Kinsley chronicles the consistent push by the Republicans for parental control and rights… that is, until Elian came along. Quoting from their 1992 election platform: “For more than three decades, the liberal philosophy has assaulted the family on every side. Today, its more vocal advocates… deny parental authority and responsibility, fracturing the family into isolated individuals, each of them dependent upon — and helpless before — government. This is the ultimate agenda of contemporary socialism under all its masks.”

I’m truly worried about this country if the 11th Circuit Court eventually rules that an asylum application by a six-year-old while in the custody of American relatives (and while a benefit of free vacations to Disneyland) is valid, but a retraction of that asylum application by a six-year-old when with his biologic and legal father is invalid, and then “properly appoint[s] a legal guardian to help Elian articulate a claim for asylum.” This honestly would mean that if I could coax any statement out of my foreign relatives’ children that they wanted to stay here, I could then just whisk the kids away, and petition a court to keep ‘em. (Dammit, sometimes I hate MSNBC. The article pointed to by the above URL used to contain that quote; they have since changed it.)

Neato — an entire webserver written in PostScript. Apparently the product of a desire to learn PostScript combined with a challenge of sorts to see if a webserver could be implemented in the language.

It still amazes me that there are intelligent people out there who believe that there is some backdoor password in Microsoft’s IIS webserver. People, keep up here — there is no backdoor password. That entire news story was generated by a single NT box on which the administrators (ostensible security experts, I might add) had lessened the default security settings. What there is is a buffer-overflow condition; the Microsoft bulletins are here and here.

This all came up because a true password vulnerability was discovered in RedHat Linux 6.2 this week — there’s a default password that is installed on the Piranha web administration tools, and with this password, you can do anything that you want on the machine. If you run a RedHat Linux 6.2 machine, you will want to go and get the patched RPM at the above link.

O.J. Simpson is still actively trying to “find the real killer” (*ahem* trying to regain any respect in the world), but a judge has thrown out his lawsuit, which “borders on being frivolous.”

I sent an email to Tom DeLay, third ranking Republican in the House of Representatives, today — I asked if he was planning on issuing a retraction and apology to the American people for misleading them by claiming that Federal marshalls went into Elian’s home without a warrant, when in fact, a warrant did exist. (I wish I could reproduce the email I sent, but you can’t email House Reps anymore without knowing their email addresses. There’s now a form page on the House website, and it forwards the message on for you.)

Below is the canned reply I received. I only reproduce it to point out that his office has a grammatical error in their stock reply to constituents — note the second sentence of the email.


Received: from by
	with ESMTP
	(peer crosschecked as: [])
	id QQimhw10052
	for <>; Mon, 24 Apr 2000 15:11:00 GMT
Received: from by with ESMTP
	(peer crosschecked as: [])
	id QQimhw17488
	for <>; Mon, 24 Apr 2000 15:11:00 GMT
Received: from mail pickup service by with Microsoft SMTPSVC;
	 Mon, 24 Apr 2000 11:08:01 -0400
Subject: Re: WriteRep Responses
Message-ID: <>
Date: 24 Apr 2000 11:08:01 -0400
X-UIDL: 3d5ab7f08f4c0932f5c730b584bcaf56
Status: U
Thank you for your recent comments. I will carefully consider you
input and get a response back to you. Also I wanted to let you know
about my email newsletter available at my website
                     Tom DeLay
                     Member of Congress

Thank you, Lisa, but now the pressure’s on, and I hope I can live up to it!

shuttle being readied
charles w luzier/reuters

The Shuttle is ready for another takeoff, this time to help get the International Space Station into its proper orbit, bring supplies, and do general maintenance. This will also be the first Shuttle mission with the new modernized cockpit, which is as state-of-the-art as computers that run a Space Shuttle can possibly be. DAMN! The launch was postponed due to high winds. Bummer.

In readying myself for hearing oral arguments in Boy Scouts of America v. Dale at the Supreme Court Wednesday, I found a good summary of the issues involved, and the potential scope of the eventual ruling. I’m slowly making my way through the NJ Supreme Court majority opinion; since the conversation at the Court tends to be more about specific points of law and interpretation based on precedent, I like to at least come close to being able to keep up.

Very very interesting: in response to preliminary inquiries by Republicans into this weekend’s events, a senior White House official has been quoted as saying “If they want hearings to explore this, then the responsibility will rest with them when we have no choice but to focus on things that have not been put into the public debate about the environment the boy was living in.” I wonder what this means…

What a complete buffoon. Matt Drudge started a conspiracy movement two nights ago by questioning the authenticity of the photos released that day of Elian with his father. Yesterday, the family released new photos, but took an extra step to authenticate them — they released the roll of undeveloped film to the AP Washington bureau, and let them develop, inspect, and print the film. Did Drudge then recant? No, he simply removed the sensationalist headlines from his site, as if he never had started the ruckus. As I said to Dan Budiac last night, the thing that angers me about Drudge isn’t his political bent (annoying, but not angering), it’s that he gleefully stirs up the political pot, but feels he has absolutely no responsibility to acknowledge and apologize when he goes too far.

On the same note, in light of the fact that there clearly was a warrant to go into the house, has Tom DeLay, the third-ranking Republican in the House of Representatives, acknowledged that he spoke out of his ass and misled the entire American populace on Sunday’s Meet the Press? (He sure as hell grandstanded in apologizing to all Americans who were “morally offended” by the raid.) UPDATE: I wrote Tom DeLay an email asking him this same question, and got a canned response back. Sadly for him, and for the people who elected him, that canned response has a grammatical error in it; the second sentence reads “I will carefully consider you input and get a response back to you.” Very sad.

The thing that has not ceased to amaze me is how little understanding the Miami relatives have of the way the law, and law enforcement, works; in particular, it’s clear that Marisleysis, the cousin, is completely clueless. She is currently screaming her head off, saying “I demand — and I think I have a right — to see this boy,” yet as things now stand, she and her relatives have no rights whatsoever. She keeps claiming that the federal raid was conducted during honest negotiations by the family, yet apparently when Reno finally told the mediator in the house that he had exactly five minutes to agree to send Elian to Washington, he had to try to wake the entire family up. And then she decries the use of weapons and force to get Elian out, yet was quoted in the days before the raid by people in her own community as saying that any Federal agent who entered their house would be hurt.

The FDA has approved Zyvox, the first of a new class of antibiotics known as oxazolidinones. Early data shows that it is effective against vancomycin-resistant enterococcus, a fatal infection that has been near-impossible to eradicate. Since it’s a patented synthetic drug, the price will probably be pretty high; all that Pharmacia has said is that it will cost slightly less than Synercid, which is around $85 per dose.

Friday, a Los Angeles jury ruled against Disney, agreeing that the company had coerced one of their executives dying of AIDS to sign away over $2 million in stock options based on false allegations of corruption. This is the first I’ve heard of this case, so I don’t know any details, but if it’s all true, then it’s a scary picture of Disney.

Ummmm… could this computer be any cooler? It’s the size of a portable CD player; I see a ton of cool uses of something this size. (This could easily be the start of a legit wearable computer.)

I don’t know how I missed this on MetaFilter, but an interesting question in raised in this News & Observer story: is a man still obligated to pay child support when DNA test confirm that he is not a child’s father? It appears that there are somewhat tragic numbers of men who are tricked or pressured into acknowledging paternity when it isn’t actually the case, and these men then end up with enormous child support bills.

i haven’t had the opportunity to follow closely, but the new republic has a really good article.

my question is, since when do we … the american public … swallow the concept that republicans give a sh_t about immigrants, legal or illegal? i’d love to see the media stop protecting their financial base and go after some of these blowhards. where are the quotes from past speeches, press conferences, etc.? the disdain for the intelligence of the american public is insulting.

for all anyone cares about elian, they ought to just wrap him in pigskin and toss him from capitol hill to pennsylvania avenue and back again. he is the penultimate political football. our american pratfalls are making castro look like a humanitarian …

For everyone who is buying into the Matt Drudge conspiracy that the pictures of Elian and his dad yesterday were faked, AP is currently moving pictures of them playing together on the base today. I saw them on our private AP Photo feed around an hour ago, but Excite News is the first to get them up on the public wire: Elian and Dad kicking a ball around, the whole family together, Elain and dad eating together, and the two of them hanging out.

Of course, now people will say that these, too, are faked… whatever. The Earth is flat, the moon landing was staged, Clinton killed Vince Foster by biting through his jugular vein in an act of vampirism gone terribly wrong… people will believe what they want to believe. But it’s difficult to dispute this, regarding today’s pictures:

Craig carried the undeveloped roll of photos to The Associated Press Bureau in Washington, D.C. Fred Sweets, assistant bureau chief for photos, said the film was developed in the AP photo lab. “These are from a disposable camera,” Sweets said. “I examined the negatives. They are authentic.”

Joel Spolsky continues to impress and delight with chapter 5 of his continuing series on user interface and design: Consistency and Other Hobgoblins.

No matter how bad your day is, it probably isn’t as bad as this poor kid’s. (Found at Pure Stupidity Videos, courtesy of Zannah.)

There’s an interesting and somewhat disturbing article at the New York Times about how drug companies do their research partially on the public’s dime, yet keep the profits for themselves. (They actually claim that the drug is the only profit deserved by the public.) Once again, though, it’s a New York Times article, so it will most likely disappear from the above link, to find its way into their pay-per-view archive.

Not that it’s the largest honor in the world, but it’s cool that Q has made LookSmart’s list of weblogs. The description makes no sense, though; the discussion group here doesn’t get much traffic at all.

Imagine that you return home one day, and your spouse and kids are gone. You worry your heart out, and then on TV the next day, you see a small news piece reporting that they were found in the snow in Canada; your spouse died of exposure, and your kids have been taken in by your cousin. When you go to get your kids back, your cousin hides them, saying that he doesn’t agree with the way that they’re being raised here — he doesn’t like the exposure to weapons in American schools, he doesn’t like the fact that there’s no national health care to protect them from disease, and he doesn’t like the entire environment of conspicuous consumption here. No matter how much you assert the fact that they’re your kids, you aren’t allowed to see them. Then, an actual court of law rules that your kids have to stay in Canada until they determine whether or not you have the right to bring them back to the United States.

That’s what’s happening here. It doesn’t matter how icky you find Communist Cuba — people elsewhere find the United States to be just as nasty. But they don’t have the right to take our kids in the name of trying to give them a better life.

Wow, Mike, have you read the Appellate Court decision? While I completely agree with you that this three judge panel has the benefit of both higher rank and (ostensibly) more prescient legal judgement, they withheld judgement on the entire custody issue. Their opinion is a very small, focused one on only a single aspect of the entire situation — whether or not Elian can leave the country. It specifically does not deal with any other issue, as they have oral arguments scheduled for next month:

To decide Plaintiff’s motion and to preserve his right to a day in court, we need only address the issue of Plaintiff’s removal from the country. We need not decide where or in whose custody Plaintiff should remain while this appeal is pending. This Order only prevents Plaintiff’s removal from this country.

This leaves us with only the words of the March 21st ruling when answering both the question of custody and the question of whether or not the DOJ has the authority to enforce said custody determination. Oh, and nobody is claiming that the INS took Elian back into custody — from the January 5th INS ruling, custody belongs to the father, and nothing has ever changed that. From the legal analysis that I’ve heard over the past 24 hours, Reno’s power to enforce this ruling is the basis for yesterday.

I thought you might be interested in my opinion on the hostage rescue in Miami this morning.

Very, very cool. (From Brig, with thanks.)

I was about to put a small apology here for all the Elian thoughts and links today, but then I realized that it’s my f’ing weblog, and the point is to express the things that are making my mind spin. When I watch something this sad take this long to resolve, and then watch people spread conspiracy notions and unattributed misconceptions, my mind starts spinning.

Wanted: at least one primary source that confirms the wildly repeated, never attributed statement that Elian will be held in some sort of camp upon return to Cuba, so that, as claimed, he can be resocialized to the proper lifestyle of a Cuban (or some derivative thereof). Send one along, if they exist. (Update: Mike came through with a secondary source that seems to talk about something similar to the debriefing that American hostages go through after returning to the U.S., except according to the CNN clip linked from that page, Elian would be with his entire immediate family.)

I swear, I had a dream at around 5 AM that the feds were finally going to go in and rescue the hostage, Elian Gonzalez, from the house of his Miami relatives — and it turns out that right about then, they were doing exactly that. My favorite quote so far is Marisleysis Gonzalez saying that she and her family were “given no warning.” Ummmm, how about a solid week’s worth? Or even better, how about three month’s worth? Ever since they decided to defy a federal order to give him to his father, they knew that they were doing something illegal, and that the INS could come in at any time to take Elian away.

Of course, now we’ll be inundated with the people who try to make a claim that the way this all played out at 5 AM today is the fault of the U.S. Government, rather than the Miami relatives who refused to transfer Elian to his father peacefully and without armed Federal marshalls involved.

Specifically for Mike: two things. First, according to the psychiatrists who have been involved in the case, the child was in “imminent danger to his physical and emotional well-being”; the videotapes that the family released early this week are very comparable to hostage situation tapes. Second, the administration acted according to Title 8, Section 1103(a) of the U.S. Code, at least according to the ruling from the Federal District Court earlier this month. This section gives broad enforcement powers to the Attorney General in all matters of immigration, and section III.B.3 of the same court ruling has a very good and detailed analysis of exactly how this broad enforcement power relates to the specifics of Elian’s situation.

We’ve all seen the picture of the agent in the bedroom closet with Elian and the fisherman; Salon already has an article on the photographer who got that shot. (His name is Alan Diaz, and his picture also ran on the AP photo wire.) Pretty interesting piece, and pretty clear that the family wanted to manipulate the media even during the hostage rescue.

One of the paid “extras” who was in the studio audience for the taping of Dr. Laura’s first TV talk show has given a first-hand account of just how terrible she is — as a person, yes, but more specifically, as a talk show host.

There’s a very well-written letter by Dub Dublin in the Letters to the Editor section of the latest Linux Weekly News that tries to debunk the currently-popular notion that patents are evil. (I’ve asked Dub if I can reprint it here, but until then, just scroll down to the letter from on that Letters to the Editor page.)

Ick — following a long tradition, penitents in the Philippines allowed themselves to be crucified yesterday as a show of faith. (Question, though — if you go through this ritual seven times, as one of the men in the story had, are there convenient soft spots in your hands and feet that they can reuse every year?)

Excitement abounds — I get to go see oral arguments at the Supreme Court next week, in the last case of the year, Boy Scouts of America v. Dale. (It’s the case fighting the ban on gay members in the Boy Scouts; if you’re into the law-reading sort of thing, you can read the original New Jersey appellate case and New Jersey Supreme Court case, both of which ruled against the Boy Scouts.)

Sometimes I think that he’s got a lot of good things to say about the developing for the web, but when Cam Barrett says that it’s partially Microsoft’s fault that people go and do stupid things with Active Server Pages, I just expect his head to do that thing in Total Recall (where the fat woman was really Arnold Schwarzenegger in disguise), and underneath the mask will be Larry Ellison, looking like he’s been caught.

I almost forgot that we’re getting up to awesome jazz season in New York City — there’s the Bell Atlantic Jazz Festival from June 1 through June 11, and then there’s the JVC Jazz Festival from June 12 through June 24. Fine, it may not be the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival (which evil Chuck is gloating about going to in a week) or Montreaux, but it’s pretty damned sweet.

wired news 403

Above is the 403 Forbidden message that I got when I tried to go to Wired News today. Absent the obvious (I shouldn’t be forbidden to read the main Wired News page), I sorta like it…

Once I was allowed to look at Wired, I noticed a pretty funny piece about an (unmarked) spoof article in last month’s Esquire — a guy who claimed that he was going to start a new dotcom business upon the premise that people will get a free car, the catch being that the car would be plastered with ads. Many people took it seriously, and it turns out that there are already a few startups with this very same idea. (Have I mentioned how ridiculous most of these dotcom startups are?)

There’s a new Microsoft security bulletin and fix out for an apparently-subtle vulnerability in permission within part of Active Directory.

Happiness is baseball and a supercool scoring application for your PalmPilot.

The Supreme Court held oral arguments yesterday in a case challenging some of the basic tenets of the Miranda decision; that means that Dahlia Lithwick has another dispatch from the Court online, and she just keeps getting funnier.

Matt and Trey are being wooed by other networks, but for some odd reason, I just can’t see NBC allowing half the things we’ve seen on South Park to air on their network.

Joel Spolsky continues his excellent series of articles looking at the process of software development (and admits to the fact that he’s a reader of Upside magazine) with Where Do These People Get Their (Unoriginal) Ideas?.

From the Napster Copyright Policy:

As a condition to your account with Napster, you agree that you will not use the Napster service to infringe the intellectual property rights of others in any way. Napster will terminate the accounts of users who are repeat infringers of the copyrights, or other intellectual property rights, of others.

This is going to end up being the Achilles’ heel of Napster — they have placed a warning on their site, and have specified an enforcement measure, and by doing so, they have implicitly acknowledged that it is one of their duties to make sure that their service is not misused. The fact that they can go onto their search servers and find hundreds of thousands of violations of the above statement, and (I’d be willing to bet) have done absolutely nothing to stop it, will be their downfall. (Does anyone know of a single individual who has been punished by them?)

Many weblog authors may have already received a message from David Eison, a researcher at Georgia Institute of Technology, asking them to take a few minutes out of their day to participate in his research project. Nonetheless, he has a survey that takes all of two minutes to fill out; if you run a website or a weblog, hop over there and contribute.

Gentle reminder: Q fully supports the DeepLeap MetaInfo panel, so if you’re a DeepLeap user, you’ve got access to the search engine, site map, contact page, and home page all at the bottom of your DeepLeap popup window.

I’m fairly disgusted that when John Rocker came into the Atlanta Braves game last night, he got a standing ovation, and fans even held up signs that read “Rocker for President.” Then again, this is a state that still has the Confederate flag incorporated into its state flag, so tolerance can hardly be expected.

A Connecticut couple is suing Publisher’s Clearing House for $21 million, claiming that they received many envelopes in the mail saying that they had actually won the sweepstakes, and even got all dressed up on Super Bowl Sunday to wait for the van and TV cameras to pull up and give them the big fake check. When it didn’t show up, apparently the emotional distress was too much to bear, and a lawsuit was the only answer.

On the other side of the lawsuit coin, I actually agree with the lawsuit filed by Metallica, and the apparently impending lawsuit from Dr. Dre, against Napster for helping distribute their copyrighted works. While people may not agree with the amount charged by major record labels for CDs and tapes, I don’t agree with how much a new BMW Z3 costs, but I don’t have the right to steal one because of that belief. Napster is a content provider, and once they know that a party is providing copyrighted and illegal content, they have to pull it down, just like AOL or EarthLink does.

David Adams has started a discussion on whether or not the Napster lawsuits should include the schools that provide Internet access to students.

These are the notes of what was changed in each release of the Manila DeepLeap plug-in.

1.0b1: Initial release.

1.0b2: Fixed a security problem, wherein someone other than a managing editor of a site could view and change the DeepLeap preferences for the site.

1.0b3: Enabled the standard Frontier subscription support in the DeepLeap plug-in; now, all a server manager needs to do to get the latest fixes for the plug-in is update deepLeap.root from within Frontier.

1.0b4: Mainly a test of the subscription mechanism; also added a footer to the DeepLeap Preferences page in which the version number of the plug-in installed on the server is reported.

There’s been a few version updates to the Manila DeepLeap plug-in; the current version is 1.0b4. (There are change notes for each version iteration; the two big changes to know about are the closing of a minor security hole and the addition of standard Frontier subscription support, so you can update the plug-in painlessly from within Frontier.)

Holy shit: in order to accomodate the 2000 Summer Olympic Games, Australia has completely changed the dates of observing daylight savings time in some regions of the continent. Microsoft has issued a technote and a patch to help IT people deal with the change on their operating systems; of course, only computers that are going to be hanging out in the affected regions need to have the patches applied.

Russ Cooper, moderator and overall deity of NTBugTraq, has revised his position on the dreaded DVWSSR.DLL security issue — he now says that there is a security problem with the DLL, but it’s a potential buffer overflow issue that can lead to the denial of service of the webserver (and he cannot reproduce it). Microsoft has also revised their security bulletin, but the remedy remains the same (delete the DLL).

Oh, that’s funny (but not in the “Ha ha!” sense) — Oprah Winfrey, the woman who trumpeted the value and sanctity of free speech when she defeated a lawsuit by Texas cattlemen designed to silence her views on their industry, makes every one of her production company’s employees sign agreements that they won’t talk about the internal affairs of the company for the rest of their lives. I guess fundamental rights are fundamental rights, but business is business.

“Elian Gonzalez is now in a state of imminent danger to his physical and emotional well-being in a home that I consider to be psychologically abusive.” (I know, we’re all sick to death of this issue, but the pediatrician in me couldn’t help linking to an article that expresses the same worries that I have about the way that that child is being manipulated and turned into a cause, rather than treated like the six-year-old that he is.)

Well, it’s now official — all of the three-letter .COM domain names are gone.

Awesome — the American Secular Holidays Calendar. (I’m filling out vacation requests for my residency next year, and needed to know when the holidays fell. You can put in any year, and this page will compute the dates of all the biggies.)

I think they’ll decide to make them illegal for the same reason that pro Basketball banned the zone defense: it makes the sport boring.

Everyone knows the real reason for this sport is so that we can all ogle at young people with nice bodies wearing spandex.

I feel very honored to be on Nikolai’s “SXSW 2000 People I Would Have Enjoyed Meeting” list… but I wasn’t at SXSW 2000! But, now that I’ve thought about it, SXSW 2000 is definitely on my “Things I Would Have Enjoyed Going To” list — there were pangs of jealousy when I browsed all the pictures that came out of the event, and if anything else, I would have loved to put faces and living, breathing personalities to the people that I have been reading, day in and day out, for months now.

Damn, this is cool — competitive swimmers in Australia are donning neck-to-ankle swimsuits designed to approximate the skin of sharks and other fish, in an effort to improve times. They ostensibly do trim up to 3% off of previous best times.

I went to see Jimmy Cobb’s Mob last night (on the tickets I won on WBGO a few nights ago), and the show was just frickin’ amazing. Jimmy Cobb is a jazz legend, having played drums for Miles Davis (on Kind of Blue, Dinah Washington, Billie Holiday, and Cannonball Adderly, to name just a few. And at 70+ years old, he’s still awesome.

I got an email from Edd Dumbill yesterday evening, saying that he had “shamelessly copied” my Manila DeepLeap plug-in for Zope — if you use Zope, go get it.

Yet another quick hello to a friend, VJ, who came to visit New York this weekend, and told me that he’s made Q his home page. (In my thinking, if someone goes and shows a commitment like that, they deserve a public hello!)

Once again, there’s now a DeepLeap plug-in for Manila servers.

ABC News uses a custom Perl redirect script to send people to stories on their site from the home page (look in the lefthand navigation bar for the links). This redirect script has an incorrect implementation of HTTP responses to requests — it terminates every line with a straight line feed, rather than the carriage return-line feed combo that’s required by both the HTTP 1.0 and HTTP 1.1 specifications (see sections five and six). Some HTTP clients (the few I’ve found are all components that you can use in your own programs) fail with only line feeds, and won’t accept the HTTP response. I emailed them about this in late January, and they responded in early February that they were aware of the problem and would fix it. It’s now mid-April, and it’s unfixed; that’s pretty pathetic.

To me, this is similar to the way that CNN responded to the hundreds of users that complained about the fact that their redesign resulted in the fonts on the home page and article detail pages being way too small to read. They initially told everyone to increase the size of the fonts in their browser (who cares that it was only their site that was broken); then, they just stopped responding at all. It wasn’t until two months had passed that they actually fixed the problem. Websites like this act like they don’t need to attract users, and they manage to push people like me away.

A while back, I logged the accusation of a Pennsylvania cop of paying $2 to a 10-year-old Little Leaguer to bean another player. The (now ex-) cop was convicted of the offense Friday, and now faces up to three months in prison. To protect and to serve, eh?

In perusing the logfiles on a Linux box of mine, I’m seeing a few distinct, obvious attempts by a University of Delaware student (or someone affiliated — I shouldn’t assume it’s a student) to break into the webserver. They’re all from one of the university’s shared Solaris boxes; at my school, this is an offense for which your account is immediately revoked on the machines (meaning you lose your university email, as well), and you’re brought before the disciplinary board of the entire school.

last updated:

current version: 1.0b4 (change notes)

NOTE: there is now support for updating the plug-in from within Frontier, in the same manner as you are able to update almost all of Userland’s native root databases. Unfortunately, if you have a version older than 1.0b3, you can’t use that support without redownloading the root file from below, and rerunning the installation script (which enables the support in the user.rootUpdates table). You can find out what version you are running on your server by jumping to the cell at dlData.prefs.version.

After the unshuttering of DeepLeap yesterday, I decided to write a little plug-in that makes it easy for Manila users to participate in some of the added functionality that DeepLeap provides. This plugin is released under the Frontier Artistic License, for free.

If you install this plug-in, drop me a line to let me know. I’m interested in whether or not people find it useful.

What does it do?

This plug-in lets you enter the information required by DeepLeap to enable its MetaInfo functionality for your site. It also allows you to submit the XML file that results from this information to DeepLeap, so that they can parse it and incorporate it into their database.

How do I use it?

It’s a standard Manila Plug-In, which means that it needs to be installed on your Manila Server, and then enabled for each site that wants to use it.

If you control your own Manila server, then this is easy — you can download and install the plug-in yourself. If your site is on a public Manila server that you don’t control, then you need to ask the administrator of that server to download and install the plug-in, and then you can enable it on your site.

There are two downloads, both very small — a ZIP file (4 Kb) and a straight Frontier root file (13 Kb). (The root file is in lieu of a StuffIt archive for Mac users; I don’t have a Mac at home, so I couldn’t make one.)

Installing the plug-in

  1. After downloading, and (if necessary) unzipping, deepLeap.root, put it into the apps subfolder of Frontier’s Guest Databases folder.
  2. Open deepLeap.root in Frontier.
  3. With deepLeap.root frontmost, go to Frontier’s Server menu and choose Add to user.databases…. Affirm that this is what you want to do, and then close the user.databases subwindow once it comes up.
  4. Run the script in deepLeap.root at dlSuite.install — this will install and register the plug-in. That’s it for the installation.

Updating the plug-in to the latest version

The DeepLeap plug-in supports Frontier’s standard subscription mechanism, so you can update it from within Frontier. Make the deepLeap.root window visible and bring it to the front, and then choose Update deepLeap.root… from the Main menu.

Enabling and setting up the plug-in on a site

Log into the site as a managing editor, and choose Prefs from the editors-only bar at the top of the page. Click on Plug-Ins in the left-handed navbar once it comes up, and then check the checkbox next to DeepLeap. Submit the form.

Now, the editors-only bar at the top of the page has an added entry, DeepLeap, which will take you to the configuration page for the plug-in. Click on it.

On this next page, you can enter the page addresses for your DeepLeap XML file. Read the instructions at the top — they explain the rules and such. Once you’ve entered the prefs and set them (by clicking on the set deepleap prefs button), then you can scroll down a bit and submit the XML file to DeepLeap for processing. This will open a new window, in which DeepLeap will report the results of the processing.

That’s it!

What if I find a problem?

You can mail me with any problems, or post to the discussion group, and I’ll do my damndest to fix ‘em.

This is what I have needed for years, too cool. Firewall issues?

I went to the Yankees game this afternoon, and didn’t even realize that Ramiro Mendoza was working a perfect game until the ball glanced off of the tip of Clay Bellinger’s glove and ended the attempt. The Yanks won, though, easily.

DeepLeap launched yesterday. It’s a web application that assists you when you surf — you can highlight a word and get a definition, you can bookmark pages on their server, so that you have universal access to them, and things like that. They write some pretty serious JavaScript, too… impressive. If you use DeepLeap, this site is enabled for it — you can use the MetaInfo tab to surf around and search Q quickly and easily.

New release: I wrote a plug-in for Manila today that sets up and automatically generates the XML file that DeepLeap uses to enable their MetaInfo functionality of their web app. (It’s being used here to maintain my own deepleap.xml file.) Read about it, and grab it!

In a bit of reciprocal link action, Dan points to a damn funny letter to the IRS; wonder if it’s real or not…

So, it turns out that the reports of the backdoor security hole in Microsoft’s DVWSSR.dll were 100%, totally, completely false. And the news reports bordered on ludicrous before backing off a little bit — saying that the “Netscape engineers are weenies!” phrase is a backdoor password (it isn’t, it’s a static key used to encode filenames), saying that any box with the DLL is vulnerable to any visitor (they aren’t, only theoretically vulnerable to people with valid Web Authoring logins), and saying that all files are vulnerable (they aren’t, the above NTBugTraq article actually found that there is no vulnerability at all).

I don’t know why, but I want a Lomo, crushingly. They look neat, and seem to take the kind of pictures I like — raw, colorful, natural-looking. Anyone wanna send me one?

As usual, Neale comes through for the Sims addicts with the PsychoticMentalPatient family photo album. Kickin’.

Home: five days’ worth of my ramblings, wrapped in sanitary cellophane and delivered straight to your door! (No tipping allowed.)

Referrer Log: look who I’ve suckered into sending visitors my way! Dynamically updated so that you have the very latest glimpse into the fascinating web of sluttish collusion.

Discuss: the place to share what you want to say. Think of it as that bulletin board next to the bathrooms at work, without all of the grubby “Ride Wanted” and “Old Ratty Couch For Sale” signs tacked helter-skelter.

Lightweight: a super-lightweight version of Q Daily News, with minimal acoutrements, perfect for your PalmPilot.

About: a little prosaic glimpse into my otherwise unremarkable life. Perhaps a picture to sate your crushing appetite.

Syndication: links to the various syndication files, so that you can take all the steaming heaps of love from Q and run ‘em through your favorite syndication system.


QuesoCam: a view of nothing (or whatever I decide to point it at that day). But here’s the thing — it’s a really nice camera, so it’s a clear view of nothing. Can’t beat that!

Photos: a one-stop shopping haven for all the photo essays that have graced the pages of Q.

Manila Stuff:

altTemplate Plug-In: a server-side addition to Manila, allowing a site editor to create alternate templates, and then to render messages through those templates.

DeepLeap Plug-In: a server-side addition to Manila, making simple the setup and maintenance of the XML file that’s needed to enable DeepLeap’s MetaInfo function. Leap away…

Daily Links: a server-side macro that makes it easy to add a link to your permanent, daily Manila site archive. What all the webloggers crave.

Referrer Log: yet another macro, this one that makes it simple to add a page showing all of the people sending you hits galore. Used in my referrers page.

LogBrowser: a Manila control panel add-in that gives you a detailed hourly log, complete with membership identifiers and referrers.


Sign Up / Log In / Prefs / Sign Out

SiteMap: you’re lookin’ at it!

i don’t remember if i sent this to you:

“this president is treated by both the press and foreign leaders as if he were a child. 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, 6.2.83

as far as geography goes, i find this:

“well, i learned a lot. … i went down [to latin america] to find out from them and [learn] their views. you’d be surprised. they’re all individual countries.”

— washington post, 12.6.82

it seems dubya is inheriting the ‘reagan teflon coating’ …
feel free to reuse as you see fit. seems we need a presidential s.a.t. to guarantee baseline level of intelligence. i don’t think that’s at all off-base, considering our problems with past presidents …

all original content on Q Daily News copyright © 1999-2002 by Jason Levine.

i subscribe to the same school of thought as beth: a vague disclaimer is nobody’s friend. don’t take my work or my words without asking first; if you do, i’ll stick a foley catheter in you, without surgilube.

for claims of copyright infringement, please visit this page.

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From the logs today, it appears that I have readers from Starbucks. Cool — can any of you send me lifetime grande vanilla lattes?

Another excellent Joel Spolsky essay: Choices.

Ever have one of those days where you realize that a few sites you go to a few times a day aren’t on your bookmarks list, and you wonder why you’re too damn lazy to take care of that? I do — today. So I dealt with it; the bookmarks list to the left now includes rc3, Fresh Hell, Bloat, and Wendell’s latest evil deed, WWWW.

Vili Fualaau, the boy who fathered two kids with Mary Kay Letourneau, is seeking $1 million from the school district, claiming that they are responsible for his affair with his teacher. Question, though: where were his parents when he, after she had been found guilty of preying on him the first time, knocked her up a second time? And aren’t these the same parents who went on talk shows saying that the relationship was consensual? Gawd.

This just in: Elian traded to Cuba for a right-handed pitcher. Awesome: “Elian will be missed, but he was going to be a free agent. A child’s freedom is a small price to pay for starting pitching.”

(In the real world, though, once again, Chuck steps into the breach and talks about the real issues that are being ignored in the Elian saga.)

Because I feel I’ve been remiss in my delivery of the inspirational, intellectual wisdom of George W. Bush to my readers on a more regular basis, I present a backlog of Slate’s Bushisms of the Week:

Reading is the basics for all learning.
We want our teachers to be trained so they can meet the obligations, their obligations as teachers. We want them to know how to teach the science of reading. In order to make sure there’s not this kind of federal—federal cufflink.
You subscribe politics to it. I subscribe freedom to it.
I was raised in the West. The west of Texas. It’s pretty close to California. In more ways than Washington, D.C., is close to California.

What a complete f’ing dink. (And Garrett weighs in with his own; share your imbicilic Dubya quotes too!)

If you run Internet Information Server with FrontPage 98 Extensions on Windows NT (not Windows 2000 or FrontPage 2000), then you may want to read this — there’s a security hole in the Frontpage extensions.

Q-Ball… I like that one!

I’ve never won tickets on the radio before, but Dan_Of_BrainLog got me into dialing into WBGO FM here in NYC, and I just won tickets to a concert Sunday night. Coooooool.

Very nice redesign over at twerntland, twer’nt it?

First use of my new toys: a hit monitor for this site, which you can see on QuesoCam2. It’s controlled by a small Visual Basic app, which uses the COM XML-RPC client written by Joe Massey and Steve Ivy to query my Manila server. I figure it’s a good test for all of the components involved, especially the COM client and Manila, which are being used once every second. (I apologize about the poor color on the camera; the backlight on the LCD screen is throwing off the white balancing, so I’m overriding it manually for now.)

Yep, that’s right, I’m now an ACLS-certified lifesaver. (Or possibly a cherry LifeSaver; I never can tell the difference.) If I had a scanner at home, I’d scan the card for you, but that could actually border on pathetic, so nevermind.

Just because I’m sick to death of the small issue going on down in Little Havana, Florida right now, it doesn’t mean I don’t have strong opinions on it. And now I’ve realized that those opinions exactly mirror those of Chuck (April 13th entry). So read his — I hereby say that they speak for me, so that I don’t have to write about it any more.

What a great idea: MailExpire will set up a free forwarding email address for you, but unlike all the other services that do this, their email address will expire after an amount of time that you set (12 hours to one month). Perfect when you only need a website to be able to communicate with you for a short period of time, but don’t want their spam for the rest of your natural born life.

Norah Pierson has an out-and-out hilarious piece on pseudo-stalking Jeff Cohen, the actor who played Chunk in The Goonies.

I think I’m a magnet for customer service problems. Today, my cellphone got shut off, for no known reason, so I called them to ask why. They said that it was for nonpayment. So I called my bank, which verified that they cashed my check a few weeks ago. I called Omnipoint back, and we conference called in the bank, which verified that they had actually accepted my money via electronic transfer, so there was no way Omnipoint could deny that I had paid. The agent on the phone still wouldn’t accept this as an answer; I had to work up another level of management before I got someone that understood how idiotic they were being, and fixed everything. Total time: one hour, which I should bill them for. Update: they are crediting $50 to my bill, which I guess is worth the hour I spent, but all things equal, I wish I hadn’t had to raise my blood pressure.

Joel Spolsky is rocking with a series of programming and interface essays on his website. A few that I have really enjoyed: Things You Should Never Do, Part I (talking about the inadvisability of throwing away source code and starting from scratch), and Introduction to User Interface Design for Programmers (a treatise on why people form the opinions that they do on computers). And, in addition, a humorous statement he made (and has since changed) showing a slight bias against Linux users has drawn the ire of Cam, possibly one of the most biased anti-Microsoft users on Earth.

Jauteria is back, happy happy joy joy!

Tuvalu has decided to sell rights to their national top-level-domain, .TV, to Idealab for $50 million. Good for them, but again, it’s just a sign that the slow response of the domain name system to the need for new TLDs has reached a pathetic state.

Of course, now that I’ve perused Idealab’s site for the .TV TLD, I think that the whole damn thing is just silly. They are auctioning off the domain names, and the prices are outrageous — most auctions appear to start at anywhere from $2,500 to $5,000 (although I cannot figure out the rhyme or reason to where they decide to start the bidding), and the successive bid intervals are pretty big after a certain point. And these prices are for one year, with the registration costs going up 5% each successive year (and by winning the auction, you’re bound for two years). In order to even participate in an auction, you’ve got to pony up $1,000. As Chuck Taggart would say… feckin’ ridiculous.

How frickin’ funny… eponymous, a company that claims to provide screening of the privacy policies of websites, has what can only be called a horrendous database on which it relies for this screening. Different privacy ratings for websites that share the same privacy policy, out-and-out wrong ratings… oops.

Wow, I should start running again.

I should put the DNS fix on my machine, but everytime I run realaudio I need to power down and restart. So I will never get a chance to run ot of memory.


I get about a month off between graduation and residency, and I’m trying to decide where to go for a nice little vacation. A great idea hit me today — why don’t I go to Cuba? And then, just beforehand, I could go down to Florida, pose as a Cuban national, visit Elian, hide him in my luggage, bring him back to Cuba myself, and end this damn saga. Think it’d work?

Oh, this makes me very happy: the Supreme Court is opening their own website starting next week (April 17th). It will provide same-day access to decisions, as well as schedules and the argument calendar. The new site will live at; right now, it’s password-protected.

I agree with Jim Warren — the fact that, an amazingly partisan website, has a .gov address is very disturbing. The justification posted by Richard Diamond (one of Dick Armey’s lapdogs) completely misses the point — it’s not that the House Republican Conference doesn’t deserve the .gov designation, it’s that what the HRC has chosed to do with that designation is repugnant, misleading, and a terrible precedent to set. (I started a thread on this at MetaFilter.)

Also at MetaFilter, plinth is trying to mock Microsoft with a mathematically-challenged dialog box, but conveniently neglects to mention that said dialog box is from Netscape Navigator, not a Microsoft product. Does he really believe that Microsoft operating systems are able to check all code that runs under them for math errors?

Apparently, since the new year began, the various Linux stocks tracked by Linux Weekly News have taken a beating. The press covered the ascent of these companies; I haven’t read as much about their slow fall.

Funny — almost all of the people who wrote into Macintouch about their experience with Netscape 6 PR1 have the same opinions that I do… slow, buggy, and terrible UI. And one person documented the same experience I had when trying to submit feedback to them via their own web form — server error, contact the sysadmin, have a nice day.

Another funny — Western Civ’s page purporting to describe the CSS support in Netscape 6 claims that the entirety of CSS1 is “well-supported,” when that’s just not the case. Granted, that may be the goal of NS6, but it’s not there yet. (View my site in both IE5 and NS6, and you’ll see the differences.)

Microsoft has identified a memory leak in the DNS server running on Windows 2000; if you want the fix, you have to contact them as outlined in the tech note.

Now the pretty weather is back. I just don’t get it.

Today is a cool day. I get to fill out all of the papers for my appointment onto the graduate staff of Columbia’s hospital — it’s like I’m becoming an adult or something. I’m still going to reflexively be looking over my shoulder whenever someone in the hospital asks for a doctor, though…

A slight Freudian slip…

Whoa — today’s Suck rocks. It’s a rant against the move towards skinnable applications (WinAmp, Mozilla/Netscape 6, ICQ), arguing that they tend to make an interface much worse. (I didn’t realize that all of the major skinnable applications are from the same company until just now.)

I needed to get in touch with a company today that has made a point of not having their phone number on their website, and hasn’t responded to any of my email for a week. (I truly don’t like doing business with companies like this.) Of course, they have a domain name, and doing a whois on that domain name gave up their phone number. Too bad for them; at least the customer support agent with whom I spoke was pleasant and helpful.

Articles like this — Why Doctors Hate the Internet — bother me immensely. A refrain I hear throughout the hospital, echoed in this article, is that many physicians resent patients who come in armed with information from the web; they feel that it’s a waste of their time to have to address the patients’ concerns, and that a lot of what patients bring in is worthless or quackery. Why don’t doctors see this as a good time to actually impart good information upon patients? If doctors stop listening, and stop responding to patients’ questions about the information that they get out there, then patients are going to stop asking, and we’ll lose the ability to actually help them learn what information can be trusted and what can’t.

I never ever ever ever thought that I’d see a pro-anorexia website. I cannot put into words how terrible this is. No joke, I bet I have nightmares about this for weeks.

If I’ve told you once, I’ve told you a million times: never compete with an ostrich during mating season.

My two latest toys: an Axis 2100 web camera and the LCD1621 liquid-crystal display. (Not together, mind you — different projects.)

Yes, it’s been a very mild winter. Yes, it’s April now. Yes, it’s snowing torrentially outside right now. I wish I knew who was responsible for this…


Because it’s where everyone’s pointing to today, Fray’s topic o’ the day is what was the stupidest thing you did as a kid?

Continuing on the secure shell topic from a couple days ago, I found an awesome Java SSH client, MindTerm, that I highly recommend. It’s free (GPL’ed), and it runs just as a standard client… but it also can run as an applet in a web page, which is super-convenient.

Sleeping in, and waking up to Walter Wade’s radio show Filet of Soul, rocks…. (And now, I’ve got Dan_of_BrainLog addicted too… my plan for world domination is just beginning.)

If you sign a contract with your cable modem provider agreeing to not run any servers, then you can’t complain when they tell you to stop running Napster, or gripe that they are sweeping machines to find out if they are running servers.

How very Footloose this is.

Classic: “Turkey’s oil wrestlers — burly men who cover themselves in olive oil and grapple with each other wearing leather trousers — are trying to stop a group of homosexuals coming to watch.” Later in the article: “The wrestlers, their muscles rippling in olive oil under the hot sun, try to pin each other to the ground. Putting a hand down the opponent’s trousers to get a better grip is a common tactic.”

This is exactly why my copy of The Sims is sitting unplayed right now — I’m terrified of how addicted I’ll become. It just sits there, whimpering at me, saying “play me, play me!”

Living up to my webring membership, another link from someone else: Jess brings us The Museum of Questionable Medical Devices. I had heard about X-ray shoe fitting devices, but never seen one

Wow, a couple of people have way too much time on their hands. (Pretty funny, though.)

Very cool technology implementation, courtesy of Eric Soroos: XML-RPC over SMTP. When XML-RPC was introduced, I didn’t think much of it; I can’t remember when my awakening happened, but I now have a few apps based around it, and would have had to jump through major hoops without it.

Hey, the font sizes on CNN are back to normal. But, now I’m very happy doing my daily news browsing at MSNBC; CNN pretty much lost me when they didn’t respond to any of the font size complaints.

one of the most rewarding experiences i had was introducing some kids to the reality of ‘jump cuts’ in video. i interviewed one of them talking about his friend; i then cut in myself pretending to interview him about what he thought about adolf hitler. “oh, he’s a DOOD, man. he RULES!” you get the idea. youngsters form their opinions based on first impressions, and what they SEE. none of them ever looked at a barbara walters or 20/20 interview the same again.

altering reality is a dangerous game, one that will cost us as a society. look at how that kid killed his brother by trying WWF wrestling moves on him.

fake must be billed as fake; and even then, children may take it as reality … i say this, having sal ivone (of the weekly world news) as an acquaintance … i disagree with him greatly on the function of that media monstrosity.

I apologize to everyone (Dan, Ben, Matt) who posted in the discussion group and never got any reply from me; I moved all my mail accounts to a new server over the past two weeks, and it turns out that I never changed the address of the mail server in Frontier. So all the notifications that get sent out when there’s a new posting have been going into the bit bucket. All fixed now.

Dan brought me to an article I never read, but should have: Photography in the Age of Falsification. Anyone who works with me knows how much I dislike this, even when my own magazine does it. It’s just dishonest, no matter what the intention.

I decided to try out Secure Shell (SSH) today — I downloaded OpenSSH, and it compiled and installed without any problems at all, which is a great thing in Linux-world. One turn-off, though: the catty argument that the OpenSSH people have started with the person who registered They (the OpenSSH) people want everyone to have a kneejerk reaction against the guy as a domain squatter (they even tried to manipulate people with a Slashdot “advisory” full of hysterical security warnings), but as is always the case, the story is much more complicated than that. Actually, Alex de Joode (the owner) has bent over backwards to try to resolve the whole non-issue, to no avail.

Holy cow, Jenni Ringley has some fans. The five picture sets that she sold on eBay yesterday brought in $3,010.23; her bed is currently at $2,660.

Yeah, I know that given that this site is called OS Opinion I shouldn’t expect any broad sweeping statements of inclusion, but I have little tolerance for people who believe that their way is the only way. Clearly, this guy hasn’t put nearly as much time into a GUI environment as he has his command-line one; if he had, then he’d realize how silly his configuration-of-a-web-server example is.

I pretty much agree with the sentiments expressed by Tom Watson in his latest column, Justice Department Saves the Internet, Film at 11:

The Microsoft suit is significant for one, and only one reason (no, Scott McNealy’s hypocrisy doesn’t count) — it has permanently created a Federal presence in the development of networked software in the United States. And that means, of course, lots of lawyers getting lots of hourly fees to litigate in an area they clearly don’t understand.

Dubya attempts to be an environmentalist. How pathetic; I hope that America doesn’t close its eyes to what an environmental disaster Dubya’s home state is, and how instrumental he has been in making it so.

A wannabe orthopedic surgeon is suing Nike for $30 million because she tripped and hurt her wrist. Damn, is anyone responsible for their own actions anymore?

CBS took a ratings bath on the NCAA Finals. Serves ‘em right, with the way that they treated the rest of the media in Indianapolis and with the fact that they were willing to pay $6 billion for exclusive rights to the tournament.

Someone in L.A., please go make sure that Tracy is still alive…

The audacity: ABC sent Leonardo DeCaprio to conduct a news interview with President Clinton. ABC is denying that it was intended to be a legit sit-down interview, but apparently, the original request from ABC tells a different story. And to add insult to injury, ABC is now claiming that the interview was “on spec” (meaning that they would decide later whether or not to use any or all of it), something that understandably just isn’t done when the President is involved.

An interesting page on homebrewed SDSL (from Dan_of_BrainLog).

I don’t know why I’m such a glutton for punishment. I used Netscape 6 again today, and went to a website that required me to log in (standard HTTP authentication, with the dialog box that asks for your username and password). The tab order in the dialog box is all screwed up — it takes five tabs to get from the username to field to the password field. I decided to report this on their Problem Report page, and got the same Server Error as I got when I tried to report a problem yesterday. So then, I went to the Netscape 6 Suggestions page and suggested that they fix the Problem Report page — and got the exact same error. I don’t know how else to read this except that they are clearly not serious about improving this browser.

Cool cool cool cool: J-Track 3D, a Java applet that shows real-time 3D satellite information.

Great interchange from the weblog chat last night:

<Dan_of_BrainLog> Surfing = blogging if you occasionally put things in a text file to blog.
<Dan_of_BrainLog> It’s just wasted surfing if you’re not taking notes for your blog.
<iscavenger> Oh, man, that’s sad but true.

Another frown for Netscape 6: Melty’s draggable pals don’t work. Double frown.

Once again, it’s BlogIRC time. IRC server, port 6667, channel #blogirc.

Should’ve heeded my own implicit warning from yesterday. I just downloaded and installed Netscape 6 Preview 1, clicked on the Edit menu, selected “Preferences…”, clicked on the “Fonts” selector, and then before the panel had appeared, I clicked on the “Appearance” selector. The next thing I saw:

netscape 6 preview 1 crash

I just tried to send this to Netscape as a problem report, and when I clicked on the submit button, I got “Server Error This server has encountered an internal error which prevents it from fulfilling your request. The most likely cause is a misconfiguration. Please ask the administrator to look for messages in the server’s error log.” I give up; they can have their browser.

As expected, the CSS support is terribly wanting; look at the way that the navbar on the left of this page is rendered in IE or Opera 4.0, and then look at it in Netscape. (Opera also has problems, by the way.)

Michael Moore has a very well-written letter to Elian Gonzalez on his website; I found it via my referrers log despite the fact that it doesn’t link to me, and thus couldn’t have referred people to me. (Ed’s Weblog is also in my referrers log today, and also points to Michael Moore’s letter, so I can only assume that someone’s browser got confused somewhere between Ed and I.)

Dahlia Lithwick, in yesterday’s Breakfast Table:

The problem with our Internet society is that no one knows how to really objectify anyone properly anymore.

The cynic in me thinks that the reason that Judge Penfield Jackson wants to fast-track a Microsoft appeal directly to the Supreme Court is because last time one of his rulings on Microsoft went before the Appeals Court directly above him, he was unanimously overturned, the panel accusing Jackson of “a clear abuse of
discretion or an exercise of wholly non-existent discretion.”

MSNBC agrees with me:

Should Jackson decide to send the case to the Supreme Court, it could be viewed as a boon to the Justice Department and the 19 states that have sued Microsoft, because it would bypass the U.S. Court of Appeals in the District of Columbia. The appeals court in 1998 dealt the Justice Department a major defeat in an earlier, related Microsoft case.

Thank goodness that there are checks in place to prevent Jackson from using this purely to avoid being put in his place by the D.C. Court of Appeals; the Solicitor General, the Attorney General, and possibly, the President all need to approve the fast-track schedule, and the Supreme Court needs to agree to hear the case (rather than remand it back to the Appeals Court).

Speaking of being overturned, source code was ruled to be speech protected by the First Amendment yesterday, and the matter was remanded back to the U.S. District Judge who had ruled otherwise two years ago. (I wonder what it feels like as a judge when the court above you sends a matter back to you, telling you that you were wrong. Sort of like being yelled at by your boss in front of co-workers, I’d bet.)

Dahlia Lithwick sighting! She and Joel Stein (Time writer) are doing Slate’s Breakfast Table this week (meaning that we can look forward to postings throughout each day of the week) and even when she’s not writing about the Supreme Court, she is in her usual hilarious form.

An interesting concept: Personable, a Workspot-like service that gives you terminal server access to a Windows 2000 desktop. Unlike Workspot, though, it costs money, which will be its death knell; it will cost people less to just buy their own copies of Win2K.

I’m just sick to death of the whole Microsoft antitrust lawsuit. I abhor the notion that a judge can control whether or not Microsoft adds features to its operating systems; the addition of legit HTML widgets and controls to Windows has made my life easier, as both a programmer and an end-user.

One thing that really chaps my hide is Penfield Jackson’s finding that Internet Explorer is not now the “best of breed” web browser, “nor is it likely to be so at any time in the immediate future.” This is definitely untrue today, and probably was untrue when he and his minions engaged in discovery, and the notion that there’s some other magical browser out there that performs better or is more stable than IE is just plain ludicrous. (And if I have to restart my computer because of Netscape crashing one more friggin’ time, I’m going to start sending Penfield screen grabs of my GPF errors.)

This week, Netscape is going to announce the beta of Communicator 6, based on a Mozilla engine that Mozilla’s own developers don’t consider to be in beta yet. This means that there are some huge features that aren’t finished yet (CSS rendering being one of them), and what bothers me the most is that, with Communicator 6 in the public’s hands, I’m going to now have to start developing around its missing and broken features, code which will have to be ripped out once they get around to finishing everything.

Hee hee — Netscape “upgraded” their mail system, shutting out nearly half a million users. Apparently, they decided to send out the email about the upgrade the same day that they started the upgrade, which could very well be one of the most moronic systems administration moves I have ever heard of. (Wow — I didn’t intend for the first posts of the day to all be related to Netscape.)

Late start today — I flew back from Indianapolis early this morning, after waking up way late and having the kind of trip that you’d expect after you’ve woken up late. But I’m back in NYC, which always makes me smile.

I’m not sure which is worse — the fact that this pillow exists, or the fact that they have illustrated the home page with a young girl affectionately hugging the damn thing. (Found by Nancy, my newest online buddy.)

Early Saturday morning, I got an email from the SANS group, an alert about a virus that had been found in Houston and was both erasing system directories and calling 911 on modems. Despite the assurance in the alert that it was not an April Fool’s Day hoax, I shrugged it off (of course, I did a little research first, but didn’t see information in the places that I would have expected to, like the Houston local news sources, the AP wire, Symantec’s virus alert system). Now, though, Symantec does have info on the virus, and the FBI is asking people to be especially vigilant in wiping it out, since it does have the ability to swamp 911 call centers. So be vigilant, everyone!

Must…. see…. Star Wars in Flash!

Friggin’ classic.

I know I’ve said it before, but I love Dahlia Lithwick, the Supreme Court reporter for Slate. Her legal analysis is great, but more importantly, by perfectly describing the back-and-forth that goes on during the few hours of oral argument a week, she reminds me that the Justices are humans, too.

More proof that anyone can post anything on the Web, and inevitably, someone will believe them (as if my site isn’t enough proof!).

A couple of new or updated Windows 2000 hotfixes have been released in the past few days, get ‘em while they’re hot:

  • Index Server (updated version of the “Malformed Hit-Highlighting Argument” hotfix, to deal with another problem identified by David Litchfield of Cerebus)
  • TCP/IP print server (potential denial-of-service attack against the add-on lpd server)
  • Internet Information Services (vague vulnerability which would allow source of ASP files to be seen)

I also seem to have missed the following one:

A happy day to all my fellow Scripting News readers… and yes, I too am trying to figure out what the mention on SN today means. A shrug of the shoulders, I guess…

This morning, on my way in to work, I wondered what April Fool’s would bring in the weblog community. With MetaFilter and the reciprocal Fairvue, I likes what I sees. (DanDot hurts my brain, though.)

Now that our offices have moved into cubicles, I really need to do this.

Today’s Astronomy Picture of the Day is the first TV image of Earth, returned from the first weather satellite (launched in 1960). Pretty neat.

Once again, Darwin was right.