In my hunt for spam filters over this past weekend, I stumbled across a great reconstruction of the history of the word “spam” as a reference to unsolicied email and news postings. It was written by Brad Templeton, whose name you might recognize; he has a very long history on the web, and is currently the Chairman of the Electronic Frontier Foundation. He also wrote 10 Big Myths on Copyright Explained, which I’ve pointed to from here before.

I was very glad to learn this week that American Express plans to return to Lower Manhattan early in 2002. Their [Macro error: Can’t evaluate the expression because the name “newsSite” hasn’t been defined.] world headquarters building is Three World Financial Center, located immediately next door to the north tower of the former World Trade Center, and was [Macro error: Can’t evaluate the expression because the name “newsSite” hasn’t been defined.] damaged extensively in the collapse; estimates are that the building will be ready for occupation beginning in March or April.

(In looking for information about the building, I was also surprised to note two things — that the World Financial Center’s home page has a post-attack image, and that MapQuest has updated their aerial photo of the World Trade Center site, which now also is a post-attack image.)

I’m happy to read that Meg is now the proud owner of a Coolpix 995. Of course, having had my 995 for half a year, I’m already lusting for the newer, cooler toy in Nikon’s arsenal; if anyone wants to buy me one as a last-minute Christmas present, you won’t get any argument from me!

Has anyone else noticed the immense upsurge in the amount of spam (unsolicited email) flying around the net these days? It started to get to me last week, when I noticed that around 85-90% of my inbox was comprised of offers to make millions while working from home and ads for Cipro or Viagra without a doctor’s visit or prescription. Since I control my own mail server, I went searching around the net to find a good way to filter all my incoming email, and ended up discovering SpamBlocker. I spent a good deal of time last night and this morning getting all the pieces in place (and correcting a major set of typos in the example config file), but now I have what seems to be a damn fine set of filters determining what should go into my general inbox, and what should be filed away in folders that I can check once or twice daily to see what fell through the cracks. I’ll keep you all posted as to my experiences from here on out.

Given this news about caffeine (also archived here), I’d say that my favorite Christmas present so far has just become even more cherished!

Shannon, Anil, and I went to see Lord of the Rings last night, and I have to say that there’s a lot more hype than there is movie. The whole thing felt rushed (which is a feat for a three-hour movie), with little to no exposition for any of the characters. Before seeing it, I understood the movie to have garnered quite a few accolades of the “best film of 2001” type from reviewers; afterwards, I can’t understand how that possibly could be the case.

It just seems typical that we’re all hearing a ton and a half about this security problem, yet hearing next to nothing about this one. Sorta highlights my point on matters like this, actually — Microsoft is known for its security problems not because they exist, but rather, because they affect more people and because the popular press publicizes them more.

There’s a ton of sadness eminating from the Upper West Side of New York City today, courtesy of a five-alarm fire that destroyed part of St. John the Divine. Originally funded by J.P. Morgan, it’s the largest Gothic cathedral in the world (or will be when it’s finished, if that ever happens); it’s also the host to the annual Blessing of the Animals, when people bring animals of all sizes to be blessed by the Bishop of New York. The biggest fear today is that the organ sustained major damage in the fire, which would be a tremendous shame indeed.

Do all the moron Congresspeople who constantly want to pass a Constitutional amendment banning flag desecration realize that stuff like this would fit under most definitions of flag desecration?

Since when did CNN go to referring to metal detectors by their more scientific name (magnetometers) in news articles? It smells like a weak attempt to avoid striking fear into the hearts of every American traveler, a dreadful realization that undertrained and unaware security screeners could have forgotten to plug in the metal detector, thereby letting everyone and their dog waltz through with their metal weapon of choice.

For those of you who use Outlook XP (aka Outlook 2002) and are considering using Russ Cooper’s NoHTML add-in, did you know that your version of Outlook will convert HTML messages to plain text natively? You can only turn on the option via the Registry (which is a decision I can’t understand), but it’s there for you. (Note: apparently, that MS Knowledge Base article contains a typo that you should know about.)

Frighteningly, researchers have recently found that white coat hypertension — high blood pressure only when faced with having it measured at a doctor’s office visit — can actually be a sign of future heart disease. For doctors, this should mean that any hypertension should be followed closely; for me, this should serve as a warning (since I have had white coat hypertension at my last two physicals, despite having a normal-to-low blood pressure at other times).

Let there be a day of mourning on the web, for AdCritic has gone offline. Anything that brought me this much joy for so long shouldn’t be allowed to go offline.

As is generally true, the MetaFilter community has provided a pretty interesting perspective on this. (And as I was posting this here, a few nice comments were added onto the MetaTalk thread involving this very site; thank you to both of you, and I’m glad that someone found my Manila additions worthwhile!)

Thanks go out to Rogers for thinking to use the Wayback Machine to find Sunil Doshi’s original post that led Shannon to my doorstep. I use those archives all the time for other things, but didn’t once think to use it to find the post last night; I’m a dumbass sometimes.

Alas, the popularity of what may have been my favorite online puzzle, Reflections, has led to its demise. Isn’t there a good advertiser-supported gaming site that could have picked up the slack here and hosted it?

The folks at Google continue to crank out amazing products, and assure that I visit their domain about a million times a week. In addition to the best general-breadth search engine, they now have a 20-year archive of Usenet, and have put together a timeline of first-mentions (e.g., first mention Microsoft, first thread about AIDS, first thread about the Challenger disaster, first mention of The Simpsons, and even the first mention of Britney Spears), a search engine that’s specific to mail-order catalogs, and a search engine that’s specific to U.S. Government sites.

Really, Google is light-years ahead of its competitors; it’s a wonder people continue to use other search engines.

Today, Shannon asked me to take a trip back through my logs to find out any information I could about how she first came across my site (and thus set the stage for our meeting and falling for each other). It was thus that I came across the original first entry from her work computer in my logs, and discovered that Sunil Doshi had sent her my way. (I wish that I could find his actual entry linking to me, but alas, he’s dumped all his archives.) So now, I feel that I owe Sunil a belated thank you — one little hyperlink led to this happy romance, and I couldn’t be more grateful.

Hmmm… can you tell, from the following graph of the bandwidth usage of servers in my apartment, when it was that Jason released the Megway 0sil8 episode?

I’m not quite sure what happened, but somehow, a few weeks ago Blogdex went to listing this very site as offline, and now refuses to crawl here for updates. I emailed the listed contact email address asking what happened (and asking if it could be switched back to online), but haven’t heard anything in days; does anyone have any ideas how I could go about fixing this problem?

I cannot say enough about the coolness of Trillian, the all-in-one client for AOL Instant Messenger, MSN Messenger, Yahoo! Messenger, ICQ, and IRC. The latest version, 0.70, adds support for file transfers and direct IM conversations, and works damn well. Give it a try… you’ll probably end up keeping it installed.

New York at Christmastime is a great place to be. All the streets are lit up and decorated, Christmas tree vendors are on every block, storefronts are all glittery and festive, and I swear that people are cheerier and more willing to forgive the occasional bump and tussle on the subways. Today, it finally got cold in the city, and Shannon and I stood and listened to the Manhattan Grace Tabernacle choir sing carols outside their church on Broadway; it was as nice as I could ever have hoped.

Of course, now I’m on a total Carol of the Bells kick, and actively searching for the definitive best version of it. (I’ve got to say that, so far, one of my favorites is the Trans-Siberian Orchestra’s Christmas Eve/Sarajevo 12/24, which is more rock-influenced than anything else.)

Today was a frustrating day at work, mainly because a mother decided to abscond from the hospital with her child. The girl was a pretty tight bronchiolitic who was still receiving oxygen, as well as nebulizer treatments every three hours; the mom had been itching to take her daughter home, and had made that fact known to everyone. Two different doctors had explained to her how important it was for her daughter to remain in the hospital, apparently to no avail. To top it off, the mother left decoy belongings in the room to make it appear that they hadn’t truly left — a purse (which was empty), a few scarves (but no jackets or blankets), and a few personal items of food.

I doubt that this mother understood exactly what she was starting when she decided to leave with her daughter, but as far as I understand, there’s now a warrant out for her arrest, and given that the child is young and requires medical attention, there are a significant number of New York City’s Finest out on the streets looking for the family. There’s also an open case with the Administration for Child Services for medical neglect, something which rarely ends well for parents who demonstrate that they aren’t concerned about the health of their babies.

Dubya appears to have been caught sneaking a peek

Fucking Frontier. At around 4:45 PM tonight, Frontier crashed on my machine. I ran it again, and did a File/Save As… on all the open databases, and then restarted the app. When Frontier started back up, though, it wouldn’t open most of the databases, and after a ton of unsuccessful debugging (and convincing myself that the problem was with corruption in the kernel verbs), I decided to reinstall. This helped (the databases all opened), but now I have to trawl through the root database and reinstall all the changes that I’ve accumulated over the past few years. Dammitall…

This weekend was my first one off in a long time, and I had a great time hanging out in New York. Alaina came to town, and she, Anil, Shannon, and I all went to see Monsters, Inc. again (with the outtakes!), eat smores for four, try out a cool Lower East Side hangout, watch Iron Chef (and the worst movie known to mankind), see [Macro error: Can’t evaluate the expression because the name “newsSite” hasn’t been defined.] The Tree, and generally [Macro error: Can’t evaluate the expression because the name “newsSite” hasn’t been defined.] be dorks together. Christmastime in New York is so much fun, and it’s even more fun when you have [Macro error: Can’t evaluate the expression because the name “newsSite” hasn’t been defined.] cool people to share it with.

Yay! I could not be happier for Karen and Jake; it seems like just a short seven years ago that they started dating. smiley: From Shannon and I, all the best; may you remember this year for the good things that have come, rather than the bad ones.

I may only be a pediatrician, but I’m reasonably certain that there’s something wrong with this x-ray.

The old gray lady is getting in on the interface design action. I’ve never understood why people think that interface design is so trivial; likewise, I’ve never understood people who relegate it to an almost afterthought, and how they can be happy with the end product — the one with the stupid widgets, nonsensical dialog boxes, and convoluted workflow — that comes out of their subpar efforts.

It seems that, this month, it’s hard to get the Supreme Court to get off the subject of porn. (And yeah, I did say “get off” and “porn” in the same sentence. Get over yourselves.)

Best wishes to Matt and his family; here’s hoping for a quick and complete recovery.

After my experience on the pediatric oncology ward over the past three years and dating someone for a while who had Hodgkin’s Disease, I can agree wholeheartedly that it generally feels like the healthcare system has no interest in making the lives of those who suffer from cancer any easier. Patients and their families have to fight, day in and day out, with hospitals and insurance companies over the most trivial things; at a time when positive thinking and stamina are an absolute premium, they’re both sapped by bureaucracy and lifeless functionaries trying to save a buck at the expense of the last link in the chain.

I am going to have to spend some quality time poring through Marie’s World Tour. It’s an ongoing chronicle of Marie Javins and her trip around the world via land and sea; she’s spending the entirety of 2001 hopping from continent to continent, and logging it all. (via MetaFilter)

All’s I got to say is — IMAP is the way to go. (This is to say that I successfully converted all my various mail archives over to proper IMAP mailboxes this weekend, and now, my web-based mail client feels a lot zippier, I can actually search my mail without having to block off an hour or two of time, and all my mail-reading clients are sharing the same archives of filed mail. This all makes me happy.)

Dahlia Lithwick weighed in last week on the arguments before the
Supreme Court in Ashcroft v. ACLU (the government’s attempt to defend the second generation of protection of children from online smut). I wonder how much time the Justices spent poring over the exhibits in the case…

I don’t know what it is about this year, but first, Thanksgiving snuck up on me, and now, I was shocked to read today that the Olympics are a lot closer than I would have guessed. (Of course, this article also made me wonder how the Olympic torch is going to travel across the Atlantic in a plane, with the security restrictions that are currently in place. Given what happened three weeks ago, will the Atlanta Hartsfield Airport staff allow a burning flame to arrive at their facility? smiley: )

Because KPMG apparently hasn’t a single clue how the web works, I feel that it’s important to link to them as much as possible. (Interestingly, searching the KPMG website for the term “Web Link Policy” comes up with nary a single page.) Join in the fun!