The other night, Shannon and I were downtown eating and seeing Amelie1, and noticed that the Empire State Building lights were green. “Why green?”, we asked ourselves. Of course, the answer’s on the ‘net — it’s March of Dimes Month, and somehow, green’s the color to represent that. (Interestingly, there’s no mention of it being March of Dimes Month on the March of Dimes website; maybe they meant Birth Defects Prevention Month?)

1. I apologize in advance for linking to a website with background music, but the site’s good enough that I justified it to myself.

Last week, Matt pointed out that a few researchers at my fair alma mater are running a sociology project that is trying to replicate the famous six-degrees-of-separation experiment, this time via email. Whereas both Matt and a friend of his were underwhelmed with their own experiences participating in the experiment, I had no problems doing so; it was quick and easy, and it will be interesting to see where it leads. Icon has a reprint of a NY Times article about the project, for those interested. (Oh, and my message for Matt’s friend Ed: it’s hard to take your complaints seriously when you openly admit to trying to sabotage the experiment with false data.)

In December, parents of a baby who died an hour after childbirth at Queen Mary’s Hospital in England were aghast to find that the hospital mortuary had lost the body a few days before the funeral. They were even more aghast when the body turned up — at the laundry facility for the mortuary, after having been through a wash cycle. The parents still haven’t accepted the apology of the hospital; the fiasco has even merited statements by Tony Blair. What a horrible ordeal.

Hey, cool! It looks like Microsoft finally released driver support for USB 2.0 on Windows XP. (Note: that’s a link to a Google Groups posting pointing to Intel’s version of the installer. I just gave Windows Update a whirl, though, and it’s available there, as well; it’s the “Microsoft Usb Driver Version 5.1.2600.0.” You’d think that they’d put some acknowledgement that it supports USB 2.0, wouldn’t you?)

Michael Dorf, a law professor at Columbia, has a damn fine column over at FindLaw about the difference between prisoners of war and unlawful combatants. Why should you give a damn? Because the basic breakdown is that the former are governed by the Geneva Convention, and the latter aren’t, for pretty good reasons. And this matters because it’s pretty clear that any Al Qaeda fighters are in the latter category, and it’s almost as clear that the Taliban fighters are, as well. Puts another context around the squabbling about the imprisonment conditions at Guantanamo Bay.

I’m feeling healthy and productive today.

I was an outdoor swimmer as a kid, and as a result, I’ve ended up with a few little moles and whatnot that have never worried me. A few weeks ago, though, Shannon noticed one that didn’t look like the rest, so I went to a general internist this past week. He didn’t think it was anything, but decided to let a dermatologist take a look; while I was there, he did general bloodwork. Today, all in about an hour, I saw the dermatologist and got the results of the bloodwork. As for the dermatologist, he thinks it’s nothing, but he did an excisional biopsy just to be sure. As for the bloodwork, completely clean bill of health — good glucose screening tests, decent cholesterol level. Satisfied, healthy me.

And the productive part comes from this weekend, when I decided to finally finish off my fellowship applications. It was a bitch — I spent literally all day Saturday working on them, scanning and typing the forms, writing my personal statement and CV, and generating all the envelopes, labels, and cover letters. Tonight, I just sealed up eight applications to go into the mail tomorrow, and I emailed a ninth, which leaves only one to go (my own hospital, which has yet to get it to me).

With so much accomplished, where will my daily angst come from now?

stop sign reflected in raindrops

What a kick-ass picture. I wonder if the central effect was intentional, or if random happenstance caused that raindrop to reflect the sign so clearly; whatever the cause, the image is the kind that I wish my brain would help me compose when I’m behind my camera.

I hadn’t realized that one consequence of the tightened post-September 11th airline industry is that high-speed, in-flight Internet access is being put on the back burner. Bummer; it would have been damn cool to surf the Web during my upcoming flight to Italy.

I don’t think I’ve ever been as proud of my Mom as I was this morning.

I don’t know what it was that got me to go to the pediatric morning report today; I was on call last night, and I was seriously dragging by the time I signed everyone back in this morning. For some reason, though, I went. The child that was being discussed was a teenage boy who had presented with acute mental status changes and bleeding gums, and it was eventually determined that he had thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura (or TTP). The rest of the discussion focused on the salient teaching points of TTP, and at one point, my chief resident made an offhand remark that she was using “the big hematology textbook” as her primary reference for the talk. Through my tired fog, all I heard was that sentence, and a little bell went off in my head, with the realization that my Mom wrote the chapter on TTP in what’s considered to be the authoritative heme textbook. At that point, I reached over the table and took the stack of papers from next to my chief, and sure enough, on the top was my Mom’s chapter.

Dude…. my Mom’s smart and shit.

Wow, what a cool story, and one that I never knew anything about: in 1976, the owners of the American Basketball Association team the Spirits of St. Louis made a deal with the rest of the ABA to forego merging with the NBA, and instead, to collect one-seventh of the annual television revenues of the other ABA teams — forever. They’ve made over $100 million from the NBA to date; with the new NBA television contract, they stand to make that much again in just over four years. Stunning, and awesome. [found at MetaFilter]

Somewhere along the way over the past year, I fell off of the McSweeney’s bandwagon. I’m not sure why, and I can’t remember exactly when, but after sauntering through the site tonight, I’m a little upset with myself — it’s as funny as ever, just the kind of fantastic, straight-faced, flight-of-ideas humor that makes me giggle hysterically. I gotta get back on that wagon.

Reading this NPR transcript about GM’s use of the World Trade Center attacks in their recent line of commercials brought to mind this commercial running in NYC right now that pisses me off every time I see it. It’s for a union for teachers, and it outright states that, due to the attacks, we now need skilled teachers more than ever, and that they need to be well-paid. For the life of me, I can’t figure out the link between the two; it’s just outright pandering, and it’s annoying as crap.

The O’Reilly Network has an interview with Brewster Kahle, the director of the effort that has resulted in the Wayback Machine (the web-based search-and-retrieval interface to the 100 terabyte Internet Archive). He provides some great information on the technology that the company is using to implement both the archive and the interface.

“All we can do is stand around and watch you plow away at your stringy skank queen. Great, just great dude, you hippie freak.”

There’s no gettin’ around it; Brent is a funny, funny bastard.

How has it remained so quiet that two Republican Congressmen have introduced a bill to reinstate the U.S. military draft? House Resolution 3598, the Universal Military Training and Service Act of 2001, would force all men between the ages of 18 and 22 into six months to a year of basic training; it would also authorize the various Secretaries of the branches of the armed forces to “allow” women to volunteer for training. Honestly, I just can’t see this one getting very far. (Also, can’t women currently volunteer for service? Pretty damn patronizing…)

For other people who’ve invested in a Linksys wireless router and 4-port switch, Jake Bordens has a great page of information and links about the box. Well worth putting into your bookmarks…

I can’t, for the life of me, imagine why Nokia felt that this is the right time to create a subdivision that specializes in “luxury” cellphones. In this economy (hell, in any economy), who’s going to spend more than 20 grand on a phone?

Really, honest to God, it’s a true story.

I went and did it, and got a wireless network access point for my apartment. I’ve been wanting to get one for a while, but the prices were a bit prohibitive; now, with the release of a newer wireless standard (and much talk about yet another standard), prices have fallen like rocks, and it seemed like a good time to buy.

All in all, setting up the access point and a single wireless node took all of about 10 minutes, and was completely painless. I got Linksys access point and router/switch, based both on reading reviews and on price; for the client side, I got an Orinoco Gold PC card, as it is the de facto gold standard, with what appears to be the best driver support and farthest range. Despite the presence of a few 2.4 GHz phones in the apartment, I get excellent throughput on the network, and no discernible interference on the phone.

Happy happy!

One of the things I absolutely can’t stand in this world is people who have some cause, and feel that I’m a lesser person if I don’t have the same passion for that cause as they do. I spent my entire afternoon with a group that deals with domestic violence in Upper Manhattan, and instead of educating us about the things that we should look for or do, they patronized us with an hour-long soap opera about a woman being abused, and then made us feel small (or tried to, at least) because we didn’t immediately adopt their cause as our own. The sad thing is that it’s my understanding that most of the residents have had the same experience, and that means that rather than helping a group of pediatricians better recognize domestic violence, they just pissed us all off.

Remember the images of the first plane hitting the World Trade Center towers? There was only one video of it, captured in the background of an instructional video that, of all people, the firefighters were making in lower Manhattan on September 11th. Well, it turns out that that’s just a small part of an entire 90-minute video, the rest of which captured the rush to the scene, the mayhem inside the buildings, and the collapse of the south tower. Dozens of people on the video died that day; the tape may never be seen by the public.

OK, now I’m on a wireless kick. I just found out about NYCwireless, which is a database and loose network of free wireless access points throughout New York City. The Bay Area has a similar free access point list, as does Boston, Seattle, and Portland. I’m sure that I’m missing many more.

As a bookmark for myself, and a reference for others, Ross Finlayson has put together a good document on using a Unix box as an wireless network base station, and Jean Tourrilhes has a great reference for using Linux and wireless networks. Or, for another approach, there’s a seemingly good Windows management app for the Apple Airport base station available, as well as a Java version. Finally, Ben Gross has a damn fine compendium of wireless links to help you set up a network. When I finally get off my ass and put together a home wireless setup, these will save me some money.

How cool is this?! Swiss researchers have released some data which suggests that anger is actually the driving force behind human cooperation. This makes me smile, since it affirms my faith that all the time I spend getting frustrated at (and then frankly angry with) customer support representatives has a greater beneficial purpose.

More personal video recorder-related good news/bad news:

Why anyone would want to hitch their wagon to that star is completely beyond me.

Salon has a damn fine article about how Google Groups — the as-definitive-as-possible archive of Usenet — is the awesome thing that it is mostly because of a trove of magnetic tapes and the foresight of a Canadian department of zoology.

I cannot, for the life of me, understand how one man, his wife, and their three children can live in a house like this. Or, while we’re talking about it, how another man, his wife, and their two children can live in this house. It all seems a bit… overindulgent.

I can’t say I’ve salivated about anything over the past few years as much as I’m now salivating over the Moxi. Combining a digital cable receiver, a music jukebox, a digital personal video recorder, a DVD player, and a cable modem into one, the Moxi looks to be the next five generations of TiVo combined. Of course, there’s a catch, though; it looks like it also plays right into the digital rights management game, and thus, could turn into just another way for your cable company to rack up incidental charges on its customers. We’ll see.

File under User Interfaces that Piss Me Off: the website, which forces you to opt out of their promotional and event mailings nearly every time that you have to type in your email address.

Why would they want to risk pissing off their customers like this? It’s not like there’s a dearth of online places to shop; I’d figure you’d want to make your customers happy.

I now have to go on record as saying that the Tiny Personal Firewall rules. In setting up one of Shannon’s parent’s computers, it installed easily, and works perfectly. I don’t know why anyone would buy anything else, at least for personal use.

I dunno why, but I feel pretty confident predicting that the newest Apple whizbang announcement — flatscreen-on-a-stick — will be a pretty grand failure. Wait… thinking about it, I do know why I feel that way, at least partly. The Apple Cube was a miserable failure, and that was during times when geek money flowed in the streets. This new computer doesn’t seem to add anything by itself, but rather, does so with software that’ll run on any other Mac, and doesn’t appear to be much different than the new imaging software that’s built into Windows XP. Realistically, this isn’t a recipe for raging success. (The Time Canada link above probably won’t work next week; I’ll try to update it with a more permanent link once Apple announces the machine.)

Ummm, Jill? What the hell do you expect? You live in freakin’ Delaware. Move to a place with more than three dozen men, and your chances are bound to be a little better. smiley:

I took the weekend off and fled to Pitman, NJ (“Everyone likes Pitman!”) for a bit of R&R… which, in Jason-speak, means setting up computers and networks. Shannon’s parents needed a bit of persuading to graduate to the wonderful world of cable modems, so we came down here to set them up.

What we learned, though, is that the collapse of @Home is as bad for the cable modem industry as everyone is saying. The provider down here, Comcast, relied on @Home for its tier 2 service, and now is scrambling to move people over to its own backbone. While doing it, they are promising things that they cannot deliver to prospective customers, and even yanking things away from old customers, generally screwing everything up royally.

Examples? Well, despite being part of the advertised service, new subscribers won’t get any email addresses until February 28th; this was a service previously handled by @Home, and Comcast won’t be able to take it over until then. Another big thing lacking (which bit us on the ass bigtime) is multiple IP addresses — not only will they currently not give new subscribers more than one IP address, but the supervisor to whom I spoke said that they have to yank any multiple IP addresses from old customers once they migrate them onto the new backbone, at least until they “get the capacity in place.”

I guess my warning to everyone is this: if you’re signing up for any cable modem service right now, be sure to ask about everything up front, and get their promises in writing from someone at a supervisor level. You’ll be glad you did.

I couldn’t be happier to note that Greg Knauss is back online. (I’m assuming that this first chapter is written from the perspective of Greg’s father-in-law, and that Greg himself hasn’t suffered a similar terrible misfortune; of course, I could be wrong.)

While I never motivated to get the pictures up from my first visit down to Ground Zero, I did put up images from my trip yesterday. It’s amazing how much work they’ve done in the past three and a half months; it’s also still sobering to see what these men were able to do to New York City.

I, too, am surprised that this first-hand account of the attempted detonation of a shoe bomb by “Richard Reid” didn’t get any real play in the major news outlets. Also, I, too, love the fact that the Web is what makes reading accounts like this possible, and makes reliance on the major news outlets less and less important.

If anyone knows the show Trading Spaces, then they’ll know sort of what things were like here over this past weekend. As a combined Christmas present and thanks-for-helping-Shannon-move-to-New-York present, Shannon and her parents took over my bedroom, morphing it from the [Macro error: Can’t evaluate the expression because the name “newsSite” hasn’t been defined.] off-[Macro error: Can’t evaluate the expression because the name “newsSite” hasn’t been defined.] pink [Macro error: Can’t evaluate the expression because the name “newsSite” hasn’t been defined.] proto-[Macro error: Can’t evaluate the expression because the name “newsSite” hasn’t been defined.] dorm [Macro error: Can’t evaluate the expression because the name “newsSite” hasn’t been defined.] room to an off-white adult’s bedroom. My formerly bare walls now are the home to [Macro error: Can’t evaluate the expression because the name “newsSite” hasn’t been defined.] framed pictures and [Macro error: Can’t evaluate the expression because the name “newsSite” hasn’t been defined.] shelves with all my smaller photos; all my toys now have homes on special [Macro error: Can’t evaluate the expression because the name “newsSite” hasn’t been defined.] toy shelves, right within arm’s reach of my desk. It’s all [Macro error: Can’t evaluate the expression because the name “newsSite” hasn’t been defined.] wood and chrome and [Macro error: Can’t evaluate the expression because the name “newsSite” hasn’t been defined.] neat and organized, and I love it.

I hope that everyone had a happy New Year! Mine was spent taking over my parents’ apartment in Manhattan (they went to a friend’s home in Dutchess County) with Shannon, Anil, Karen, Jake, Jill, and two other friends of Shannon’s; we cooked a big meal (salad, vodka pasta, chicken in a white wine, tomato, and lemon sauce (essentially this, with the flour replaced by garlic salt), and italian ricotta cheesecake), sat by the fire, and passed out at 1 AM. It was the first awesome New Year’s Eve that I’ve spent in New York, and I’m glad to now know that such a thing is possible.