Does anyone remember the five BMW films that were released over the course of the past year? I had never seen the last one, so I watched it today, and while the main feature part of it isn’t all that special, the little sub-story tied to it — “The Motel Maid and the Package” — is eerie given what’s going on in the U.S. right now. In it, a woman uses a stungun to down a mailman, steals his keys, and breaks into a corner mailbox; she then rifles through the mail and uses a boxcutter to open up a big envelope and replace its contents. Later, you see a young thug receive the envelope and open it to discover a little box, and when he opens the box, a mysterious powdery smoke comes out and kills him.


If you don’t like the Windows XP feature that I talked about a few days ago, wherein multiple windows from the same application are grouped together in the Taskbar, then you may want to read the discussion on that item — there’s an explanation of how you can turn it off.

Let’s go, Yankees!

A Connecticut Superior Court ruled this week that a hospital’s responsibility to its patients is important enough to outweigh any responsibility to nonpatient visitors. While this may seem logical to you and me, it wasn’t that clear to Anne Marie Murillo; she was watching a nurse put an IV into her sister, passed out, and sued the hospital for neglecting some “duty to prevent her from fainting, or at least falling.” When will people become responsible for their own damn selves in this country again?

I’m not too sure that this could be any grosser.

The first Harry Potter movie clocks in at over 2 1/2 hours long — and as far as I’m concerned, the longer it is, the more I get to watch. I am soooo excited for this release…

Brian Robinson hiked the Triple Crown. Since January 1st, Brian hiked the entire lengths of the Appalachian Trail, the Pacific Crest Trail, and the Continental Divide Trail — 7,371 miles in all. The New York Times had a story about the feat yesterday (but of course, it’s only available for a week before going into the penny archive). It’s an amazing accomplishment — I particularly like the fact that he would eat entire cheesecakes at night to keep his energy up.

The Supreme Court is hearing testimony today on an interesting case, Ashcroft v. Free Speech Coalition. At issue is whether the government can ban pornography that involves consenting adults who appear to be under the age of consent (either naturally or by being digitally modified). One of the main arguments of the government is that such porn entices actual children into sexual exploitation. The centerpiece of the free speech advocate’s argument: who gets to decide whether a model appears to be a minor? Fascinating.

Windows XP keeps making me smile. This afternoon, I noticed that one of the items in my Taskbar looked different… and then I noticed the subtle little numeral 3 next to the icon. It turns out that when the taskbar starts to get cluttered, WinXP groups multiple windows from a single application together; the little numeral indicated that there were three Internet Explorer windows grouped under one entry. I like that. (There’s a picture of what this looks like in the Discussion, if you’re interested.)

Ummm… 128 Mb of RAM for ten bucks? There really is no excuse to not soup up your machine now… and, as everybody should know, too little memory is way more of a handicap with modern operating systems than too slow of a processor or too small of a disk drive.

Thanks go out to Rogers for pointing me to this great story about how scientists have, for the first time ever, captured simultaneous images of the aurora borealis and aurora australis, and in so doing, have proven that they are mirror images of each other. (This has long been a suspicion, given that the auroras are thought to be magnetic phenomena, and that they occur around the magnetic poles of Earth.) For the brave-of-bandwidth, NASA has a 2.4 Mb QuickTime movie showing the auroras.

Last week, Thomas Friedman had a phenomenal column in the New York Times about the reluctance the U.S. is finding in its allies when it comes to helping us fight overseas — and how part of the reluctance has roots in the behavior of our own White House. Makes you think…

So, despite the FUD from the past few months, there’s no inherent limitation built into Windows XP that prohibits creation of MP3 files. You can still install whatever app you used before to make your MP3 files, and in addition, you can buy any of a few $10 add-ons to Windows Media Player that’ll build the capability right into Windows. (Right now, add-ons are available from Cyberlink and InterVideo, and further add-ons are available that allow WMP to handle DVDs. More companies promise MP3 and DVD releases in the near future, as well.)

So, I’ve spent my afternoon upgrading my desktop machine to Windows XP, and so far, I love it. The things that I love most about it? (Note: this list will most likely change as I find new things throughout the evening…)

  • ClearType
  • finally, built-in ZIP file handling
  • the incredibly fast start-up time
  • less crap on the Desktop!
  • a System Tray that collapses to hide seldom-used stuff
  • a Taskbar that groups similar apps together
  • a fast, fast UI
  • built-in CD writing, including automatic creation of multisession discs and use of CD-RW discs (finally, both are useful!)
  • Terminal Services, even on the Professional level installation

Things I wish I could love about it:

  • Fast User Switching (it doesn’t work if your machine is part of a Windows domain, which mine is)
  • the Active Directory administration tools (which don’t exist yet for the XP client side, although I am about to install and try out the beta versions that came with my MSDN membership)

Based on looking back at the treatment of the only surviving victims of Bacillus anthracis inhalation disease, the CDC is now recommending combination antibiotic therapy for any cases where there exists a high level of suspicion of the disease. As important, while every isolate of B. anthracis has been susceptible to penicillin, solo therapy with the drug is not recommended, because of the pressure it exerts toward development of antibiotic-resistant drugs. (As expected, the CDC’s anthrax web page is a great source of information.)

Go now and drop a couple of bucks on a MetaFilter TextAd. They’re cheap ($2 per 1,000 views), and being on the homepage of MetaFilter, they’re going to be put in front of a community of mostly intelligent and web-savvy people. And most importantly, they’ll help keep Matt in the lifestyle to which he’s become accustomed. smiley:

It doesn’t get much better than lounging on the sofa, watching the Yanks coming closer to the World Series, while [Macro error: Can’t evaluate the expression because the name “newsSite” hasn’t been defined.] both of your ladies hang out a couple of feet away.

I challenge someone to come up with a tastier ice cream than Phish Food. I firmly believe that it can’t be done.

Praise be to [whatever almighty you believe in] — I’m done with the neonatal ICU, at least until April. Today, I started four weeks in the emergency room, and while it’s busy as hell and frustrating at times, it’s far more interesting and rewarding. I was on the acute side today, and that meant fifteen patients with whom I got to play, from a little girl who fell down a flight of steps at school to an even littler girl with hypopyon and corneal ulcer. I learned today! (Oh, and to set you at ease: the girl who fell down the stairs is fine, at home after a negative cervical spine series and head CT scan, and the girl with the eye infection will be fine, after she gets a whole heaping load of antibiotics.)

I get so sick of reading columnists complaining about Windows XP now enforcing the fact that you have to buy separate copies for all of your computers. It’s the freaking law, people. Would Walt Mossberg’s employer be happy if brokerage firms got one subscription to The Wall Street Journal, scanned it, and provided it to all the employees online? I doubt it… yet that’s what he, and others, think people should be able to do with Windows XP.

How many of you celebrated Sweetest Day yesterday? I honestly had no idea that it existed until Shannon filled me in a few days ago. (Of course, being a relatively modern holiday, we both felt it appropriate to celebrate it in a modern way.)

Ohmygod, this is funny. I’ve had about the same results with online technical support, even when I’ve been 100% positive that the responses were coming from an actual, live human being. Of course, speaking to someone on the phone (rather than online) doesn’t guarantee that the “help” isn’t equally as useless; try dealing with Iomega or Sprint to experience what I’m talking about.

I should probably play a little with Tiny Personal Firewall; it looks like a good program to put on the computers of all the people I’ve convinced to get always-on Internet connections.

Have you ever been called inadequate by an ex-girlfriend? How about in the New York Times?

Ms. Kahn and Mr. Kirby met at Columbia, where they graduated, she summa cum laude. Ms. Kahn remembered “gazing fondly” at Mr. Kirby as they crossed paths going to and from classes on campus during the spring of 1993.
“Specifically, on Tuesdays and Thursdays around 11 a.m.,” she recalled. Yet for more than a year, they never spoke, mainly because Ms. Kahn had a boyfriend for most of that time and Mr. Kirby was oblivious to Ms. Kahn’s silent admiration.

Ah, how history gets reinterpreted… smiley:

Yep, another week without a meaningful update. Thanks to everyone who contributed how their last week was; I really like hearing about the people who come here to visit. To reciprocate, here’s how my weekend went:

This was my “golden weekend,” which means that I didn’t have any reason to be in the hospital from Friday afternoon through this morning. As luck would have it, it coincided with the wedding of one of Shannon’s best friends down on the Jersey shore, so off we went. (And if anyone tells you that racial profiling has gone the way of the dodo bird, I beg to differ; the only trunk that I didn’t see searched while going into the Lincoln Tunnel Friday evening was ours, belonging to the two white kids in the Mazda sedan.)

Friday night and Saturday morning was spent at Shannon’s house in South Jersey, Saturday afternoon and night were spent with a group of her best friends in a hotel suite at the shore, and Sunday was spent literally on the beach, watching a beautiful wedding. I got to see where Shannon grew up, I finally met a big group of her best friends, and I left the city for the first time since the World Trade Center attacks.

I have always felt that the only thing nicer than getting out of New York City is returning to New York City. Don’t get me wrong — the weekend was fantastic, and going on my first (mini-)vacation with Shannon went better than either of us could have ever expected. But home is home, and even in the wake of all that’s happened — and is happening — here, it’s really nice to be back.

usYachtClub: Shannon and I at the Ocean City Yacht Club, October 14, 2001.

(As always, please feel free to tell us how your week went!)

Over the past two weeks, I’ve felt a little guilty about not keeping things as up-to-date around here as everyone’s used to. It hit me today that my feelings of guilt originate from the fact that, over the past two years, I’ve developed a relationship with all you people who come here to read what I write. Right now, that relationship’s mostly one-way — I write, you read, and occasionally, someone contributes via the Discuss system. I want to try to change that a little, and ask people who come here to read to take this opportunity to also take a baby step forward and give something back. After thinking about it a little, I have decided that I want to take a trick out of Caleb Clark’s hat. So here I ask you:

How was your week? Do anything fun? Have to endure something tough? Have a little story to share with all of us?

(Click on the little “Discuss” link below and to the right…)

So, it appears that Fred’s back, after joining us here in NYC. (Well, he lives in Brooklyn, but I guess we’ll consider that NYC proper for his sake.)

My on-call night in the NICU Thursday was possibly my busiest, most hectic one ever; sleeping until after noon today may not have been enough to catch up on the lost energy and sleep. I was called to the delivery room 10 times (strangely, to the births of nine girls and only a single boy), and two of the births were of babies with hypoplastic left heart syndrome. Another of the kids was born through thick meconium, and ended up on a ventilator and sick sick. All this was in addition to caring for the two dozen kids who were already on my service; about the only thing that perked the night up was that Shannon came up and spent around five hours hanging out in the call room, providing moral support and kisses whenever I needed them. (Oh, and Wendy’s Big Bacon Classic, which my body needed more than you could possibly imagine.) She rocks — and, in retrospect, so did the night on call.

Derek’s got a good mini-essay on the inclusion (and explicit categorization) of overtly racist groups by Yahoo Groups over at his Design for Community website. I’m on his team — being the arbiter of what’s allowable in its community, Yahoo is making a statement by allowing white supremacists and other racists to use its facilities, and it’s a statement that saddens me a bit.

Hey! How did I not realize until just now that today’s a palindrome day?

10 02 2001

Cool — I had no idea that the U.S. can selectively disable civilian GPS signals in specific areas (thereby preventing things like our enemies from using our satellites to move their troops). Makes sense.

The Second U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled yesterday that the FCC has the authority to regulate the dialing methods used within localities. Why would I possibly care about this? Because the locality in question is New York City, and the ruling means that in under a year, all us New Yorkers will have to start using 10-digit dialing in order to make all calls within the city, even in the same area code. (The flip side of the coin, though, is that with five area codes in the city these days, a huge number of calls already have to be made with 10-digit dialing.)

For a while, it looked like the NFL was going to consider moving the Super Bowl to New York City this year, both out of need for a new venue (the World Trade Center atrocities shifted the football season off one week, and there are major conflicts to be resolved to keep the game in New Orleans on the later weekend) and as a gesture to the city, to show that things can return to normal and pump money into the local economy. Unfortunately, though, it looks like the NFL is close to working out a deal that will keep the game in New Orleans. Bummer.

Wow, the bees have been busy at Userland. Last Friday, they released a set of changes to Manila servers which allowed people to view pages in a more print-friendly format, but the template used to generate the format was hard-coded into the server. After a request to make this template editable by the site administrator, they released that change today.

Likewise, Userland started changing the entire update interface, but unfortunately, Manila servers could only participate on a server-by-server basis (rather than each administrator of a site on a server deciding whether or not to participate). Again, a request was made to allow each site to choose — and again, that request was granted today. Rock on.

After playing around with the template that’s part of the new print-friendly feature of Manila (thanks, Brent), there’s now a version of Q that’s light on the formatting. If you’re into quick-loading, no-frills (and no-sidebar) pages, then this one’s for you. (Here’s the corresponding link to create a custom AvantGo channel containing Q, if you want to carry my insane thoughts around on your handheld.)

In all the press attention about a certain Supreme Court order today, a few other interesting goings-on at the Court have been lost. What are they, you ask? Well, for one, a group of Orthodox Jewish ex-Yale students lost their last appeal to overturn a decision which forces them to abide by the housing code despite its conflict with their religious beliefs. In addition, the Court refused to overturn a lower court decision that Amway’s distributors can’t claim First Amendment protections when they tell customers that Procter & Gamble is associated with Satan. And lastly, the Church of Scientology won’t be allowed to reinstate its libel case against Time Magazine for its award-winning article, “Scientology: The Thriving Cult of Greed and Power”. I’m sure that there are even more interesting cases buried in complete order list for today, too.

Remember when I mocked LA for thinking about imposing taxes on orbiting satellites? Apparently, the state tax assessor’s office agrees; LA County failed in its second attempt to do just that.

I think it’s a bit scary that the official White House transcript of Ari Fleischer’s comments about Bill Maher’s now-infamous remark completely omits Fleischer’s warning that, in times like this, “people have to watch what they say.” (Multiple sources confirm that Fleischer did, in fact, say exactly that; the second of those two, the New York Times article, also contains acknowledgement from Fleischer’s own staff that he said it, and blames “a transcription error” for the remarks not appearing in their entirety on the White House website. Of course, they’re not yet fixed…)

During the hours immediately after the World Trade Centers were hit, the only way that I could keep in touch with my sister and brother-in-law was via his RIM two-way pager; it was through the pager that they were even able to meet up and flee downtown. Not surprisingly, with the cellphone networks in Manhattan deluged by the disaster, it turns out that we weren’t the only ones completely dependent on two-way paging. (Of course, the nearly flawless performance of the pagers is probably related to the fact that they aren’t used nearly as much as cellphones, and thus aren’t as prone to overloaded use.)