Oh my god, are you joking? The New York Times still uses Atex!?! Atex was the publishing system that we used to put out my college paper (and dumped the year after I got there); it was also the system used at the magazine I started working at in college (and was dumped two years after I got there). I know it was powerful and all, but it’s shocking to me that, with its dedicated text-based terminals, cumbersome key commands, and complex workflow, Atex had any life left in it once WYSIWYG editing and color entered the computing landscape. Their new system, CCI NewsDesk, looks pretty cool; in this day and age, it seems like a necessary fact that reporters and writers need to be able to use their publishing system on the same computer that runs their email client, web browser, and custom workflow applications. (Thanks to Anil for the heads-up on this one, and on the Times Talk site in general.)

There has been quite a bit written over the past few days about the fact that Google removes various sites from the search indices that it provides in certain countries. My personal favorite, though, is today’s column by the BBC’s Bill Thompson, lamenting that the removal is done without due process. To Thompson, the real solution is “an internet that is properly regulated,” and “where Google and other search engine providers had a legal obligation to provide full and comprehensive results to the best of their technical ability and to inform searchers of any areas where content had been removed from their index on legal grounds.” Huh?

Hey, Bill, who’d regulate it? Would it be the United States (where, rather than restricting search engine returns, we just try to ban information from the net entirely)? The EU (whose restrictions on speech are what currently have Google caught up in this mess)? How about China? Oh, yeah; obviously, it’d be the United Nations, with an international court and police unit that would enforce the regulations.

Holy pie-in-the-sky idealism, Batman…

And in other spam-related news, there’s been a little bit of hubbub lately about referrer log spamming, mostly centered around this company (which started showing up in my logs on Friday). Proving that web authors are always up for a challenge, though, Mo Morgan has engineered a neat response: a web form that lets you insert whatever you want into the referrer logs of the company that started the fracas. Have fun!

Congrats, Alaina! We’re now just a few short years from having a trustworthy behavioral scientist around to help explain that Anil freak…

While I was at work yesterday, Shannon received another little bit of Windows Messenger spam on my desktop, demonstrating that I had not yet banished this annoyance from my home network. Luckily, there’s been even more progress in tracking down exactly how the messages are sent, and it turns out that I left one last itty bitty port open (UDP port 135).

Before adding a rule banning traffic on that port to my router, I checked the access list logs, and saw that more than 1,500 attempts had been made to send packets over the previously-banned ports. Is Windows Messenger spam becoming this popular?

I enjoyed reading Clay Risen’s article about the business of coming up with brand names over at The Morning News, but couldn’t help thinking that many brand names only seem silly until they become commonplace enough to be unremarkable. Names like Microsoft, Kleenex, and Google now have lapsed into the everyday and ho-hum, but I suspect that each would be mocked outright if it were suggested today. Handspring? Pshaw. Xerox? It’d be ridiculed. Ultimately, I feel like a lot of a brand name’s success depends on the success of the company’s actual product; money is probably better spent on things like quality, usability, and support than it is on coming up with the ultimate name.

In the vein of la tortillita’s note on misused quotation marks, I bring you one of the three pieces of spam that made it through my email filters today:

”Order” today and start ”losing” ”weight” tomorrow with next day shipping. Also take advantage of a ”Free” Consultation for a limited time. ”Viagra” also available.

But wait… maybe the quotation marks aren’t misused. You’re not ordering, you’re being suckered; you’re not losing weight, you’re hemorrhaging money. Likewise, the consultation isn’t free, it costs you your pride, and it ain’t Viagra you’re getting, it’s sugar pills.

Makes much more sense now.

Thanks to Mark Pilgrim and Sam Ruby, there’s now a damn fine RSS validator available. (Am I the only one, though, who thinks it’s a tad bit sneaky to tell Movable Type users that the way to make their RSS 0.91 files valid is to convert them into RSS 2.0 templates?)

Late night ER shifts. Bad family doings. A visit to South Jersey. Starting the pediatric ICU.

Things have been busy.

All this is to say: sorry if I haven’t replied to your email, taken a stab at your new templates, migrated your site off of an infernal piece of junk, or finished off your departmental website. It’s all at the top of my list, and this week, I’ll do everything I can to get it done. Promise.

Remember the Windows Messenger spam that I received, and thought I had dealt with by configuring my network to not accept any Internet traffic from the outside world on the relevant ports? Alas, I was wrong; I received another batch of annoying popup dialog boxes a few days ago. Perplexed, I was — my network fix should have prevented this!

My daily read of Heather, though, led me to Wired’s discovery of the newest method of pissing people off, which shed some light on the situation: the popups somehow use port 135, not the traditional ports 137 through 139. Newly vested with the information, my router should finally be all set to repel this odious form of spam…

For those who are so inclined, Michael Dorf, Columbia Law professor, has a good two-part preview of this year’s Supreme Court term. (In actuality, it’s a preview of appellate cases; some of those that Dorf details probably won’t reach the Court this year.) Predictably, this term could bring a few questions in front of the Court that relate to the rights of people accused of terrorism; also abiding by a recent trend, there are a few death penalty-related cases on the near horizon. As always, it’ll be an interesting year to sit in the bleachers and watch.

angie harmon

I mean, as Shannon can attest, I love Angie Harmon as much as the next over-androgenized Law & Order addict, but… perhaps she should think about eating something sometime soon?

My next mini-project: build a new Movable Type website that uses the mt-rssfeed plugin to allow me to download a good amount of my daily website reads to my PalmPilot. Or has someone already written a good tool to allow syndicated reading on a PalmPilot?

I gotta tell ya’, have little to no sympathy for website publishers that complain about Internet Explorer’s third-party cookie privacy standards on the basis that it makes it harder for them to generate effective advertisements. The protections were put into IE mostly at the behest of concerned consumers, who didn’t want their viewing habits on editorial websites to be known and tracked by advertisers; web bugs were becoming out-of-control, and users frequently had no idea which domains were able to garner information about their viewing habits, even on relatively well-known websites. All Microsoft did was took a well-known standard, advocated by the Network Advertising Initiative and passed by the World Wide Web Consortium, and implemented it in Internet Explorer.

My personal favorite is that the biggest critic in this article is iVillage, whose site maintainers also admit that they haven’t deigned to add P3P-compliant statements to their sites’ privacy policies. Let’s get this straight: in order to make your advertising work, you have to add statements to your sites’ templates that codify your privacy practices. You haven’t done so… so you blame Microsoft?

Next week, we can expect an article from a company complaining that they have to remove all <blink> and <marquee> tags from their website because modern browsers don’t support them.

Yesterday was a day that verified one of my suspicions: when the weather is crappy, pediatric emergency rooms quiet down a lot, but the kids who show up are the ones who need to be there.

Normally, a shift in the ER involves convincing around 2/3 of the one billion people that you see that their kids don’t need to be seen in the emergency setting, and helping the other 1/3 get the acute care that they need. Yesterday, though, it was raining cats and dogs in New York City, and inside our ER, the volume of patients was drastically lower than normal. Instead of the usual big pile of blue (meaning non-acute) charts, the bins for the green (semi-acute) and red (acute) charts kept us occupied. I ended up admitting almost every single patient I saw to the hospital, including two infants with meningitis, a toddler with a big pneumonia, a four year-old heart transplant recipient with a fever, and an adolescent with seizures; the other residents who were on also admitted three asthmatics, two toddlers with croup, an adolescent with a large abscess, another adolescent with an incarcerated hernia, and an infant with recent heart surgery and pallor.

The moral of the story? On rainy days, it’s possible to see how a pediatric emergency department should operate — acute care for acutely-ill children.

Add another legal weblog to my bookmark list… Now, could someone help the authors of SCOTUSblog fix their archive links so I can read all of their posts?

1. Dave Winer asks for community help deciding on a way for someone’s website syndication feed to indicate that it is outdated and that there is a new version elsewhere. He punctuates the request with: “This could be a first experience at really working together, with no flames.”

2. Phil Ringnalda makes a few suggestions, and over the next few hours, a couple other community members weigh in on the pros and cons of alternate ways to implement the idea.

3. A mere twelve hours after the original post, Dave Winer himself lights the fire himself: “You guys need to step back a few steps and look at all the discussion you’re having over a brain dead simple addition. Unbelievable. Just add the fcuking namespace and be done with it. Geez Louise.”

Lawrence Lessig has filed his report on his performance in front of the Supreme Court (and his perspective on how it went) in last week’s Eldred v. Ashcroft arguments.

It’s incredibly interesting to me to see his approach to the entire line of reasoning — how the Court has historically viewed the commerce clause of the U.S. Constitution as granting an enumerated power that has inherent limits, and that the goal was to get the Court to see the copyright clause as granting a similar enumerated power. (For background, Glenn Harlan Reynolds has a great explanation of the concept of enumerated powers.) It’s also heartening to note that his worry isn’t that the Court won’t agree with the greater need to limit terms of copyrights, but that the Court will conclude that it is not within its power to set such limits. He’s right: “They are motivated to do the right thing; they are resisting the right thing for the right reasons. Both sides are good.”

Aaron Swartz also posted his recap of the arguments, as well as his entire day in Washington, D.C.; the most interesting part to me, of course, was his description of Brewster Kahle’s Internet Archive Bookmobile. I wish the damn thing would come to New York City!

While I’m not too into the new color scheme, the redesign over at Wired News deserves bigtime attention for the fact that it’s implemented completely in XHTML and CSS, proving that a large, end user-oriented website can also adhere to web standards. Great work, fellas!

From the Dahlia Lithwick department: where is her dispatch from yesterday’s Supreme Court arguments in Eldred v. Ashcroft? And how did I miss Dahlia ripping the L.A. District Attorney’s office a new asshole over its continued, dogged pursual of a felony conviction against Winona Ryder?

Michael Gartner, Pulitzer Prize winner and former president of NBC, had a funny op-ed piece in USA Today yesterday with a set of counterpropositions for the airline industry. (Many may remember Gartner’s writing from his most recent press-related position, the ombudsman for Brill’s Content magazine.)

Heard on Law & Order tonight, from Assistant DA Jack McCoy to Associate DA Serena Southerlyn: “Never get Freudian with a man with a pickle.”

On today’s Supreme Court docket was Eldred v. Ashcroft, the case contesting the lengthening of copyright protections that was pushed through Congress mostly at the behest of major media companies.

So far, there have been a few recaps of the arguments on the web, including Raul Ruiz and Ernest Miller’s perspective over on LawMeme, the recollections of Kwin Kramer, and the Washington Post and New York Times articles. (The fact that the Times article showed up in the business section speaks volumes about the real motives behind the original law.) Eagerly anticipated, of course, are the perspectives of Dahlia Lithwick and Aaron Swartz. (Not to mention the eventual retrospective by Lawrence Lessig…)

Oh, how much I love rollerblading in Central Park.

From the barrel of great ideas: ZOË, an application that sits between you and your mail, indexing it all and making it searchable (among other things). Once this puppy understands IMAP mail, I’ll have to give it a test ride.

one year of movable type

Congrats, Ben & Mena! Your work on Movable Type could not be more appreciated. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

I’m a happy SpamAssassin user, but over the past few days, I’ve noticed a bunch of unsolicited email that’s made its way through the filters and into my inbox. After investigating a little bit, it turns out that the way that the filters work changed a bit with the latest upgrade — essentially, it’s easier for long-term spammers to make their way onto the auto_whitelist (the list of addresses allowed to send mail through the filters). Luckily, though, one of the project’s administrators also noticed the failure of the new behavior, and the next revision is going to eliminate it. If you’re running version 2.42 and seeing the same thing, I’d advise you watch the download page for the 2.43 release.

What an awesome day for New York City: the U.S. Postal Service has reached a deal to sell the James Farley Building to the city, allowing the construction of a new Penn Station. The current train station is a disgrace, especially since the building of it (and Madison Square Garden) involved tearing down one of the greatest train stations ever. Since then, we’ve been left with an underground series of caverns and dark hallways that are always inhabited by a clinging, burning smell, and an arena above it all that (given the Knicks’ and Rangers’ performances) doesn’t seem to have been worth the loss of the old station.

The Farley Building was designed by the same architects — McKim, Mead, and White — that crafted the old Penn Station, as well as a ton of other buildings in and around New York City. (I admit a bit of a bias, too — they designed much of the campus of my alma mater.) From everything I’ve seen, the building will serve as a terrific replacement for what is now just an outright eyesore.

Just over a month since he died, the New York Times has a good retrospective on the 60 days that James Quinn spent with the AbioCor artificial heart in his chest. The article does a good job of demonstrating the level of detail that goes into planning trials of devices like artificial hearts, from the patients (must be within a month of expected death, must have a chest big enough to hold the device) to the family (must be able to handle the constraints, must be able to deal with the uncertainty) to the home (must have stable electrical power, must have furniture!). With the shortage of organ donors in the United States, and the loss of countless organs due to the lack of presumed consent, the development of reliable artificial organs is becoming more and more important, as is understanding what that development entails.

What does the first day of the Supreme Court term mean? Dahlia Lithwick’s first Supreme Court Dispatch of the term! Today, she pines for Supreme Court Dancers, admits to her feelings that Justice Breyer looks like a rockstar, and suggests that the majority of the currently-seated Court is cryogenically frozen every summer. Good stuff.

So, has anyone seen any Democrats lately? You’d think that, with the homeland here falling apart pretty much on its own — the stock market sucks, kids are becoming so numb to violence that a mob of them beat someone to death, there’s a sniper having his way with Maryland, and politicians are as crooked as ever — there’d be a few voices trying to offer up some different opinions on how we should be focusing our energies. Apparently, you’d be wrong. How disappointing.

For the end of my vacation, I’ve spent the last three days in Atlanta, Georgia with Shannon; we’ve been visiting Alaina for the last time (actually, my first and last times) before she makes a big move northward. We’ve had a great time — shopping has been a huge part of it, playing with the menagerie of animals down here has been another, and watching movies has made up the rest.

Tonight, we watched Startup.com, and the best I can characterize my emotional response is that it spanned the barometer from amused to incensed. Honestly, though, I was most saddened by the news that Tom formed another startup with Kaleil; I guess that some people really do always want to assume the best about others.

Tomorrow, it’s back to NYC, and Monday, it’s back to the emergency room for two weeks. It will be nice to get back to work (although I will also be returning to a personal project that got some bad news in the last two weeks), and back to my kiddos in clinic.

It’s pretty damn funny that last week’s stories about the looming extinction of blondes from the human race — ostensibly due to recessive traits and societal preferences — turns out to be a big hoax.

I’m glad that someone — Aaron Swartz — finally got around to taking the New York Times XML feeds and turning them into something more useful, namely a Times-specific weblog. This is something that’ll definitely end up in the bookmarks list; hell, with a little modification of the source, it’s also the perfect AvantGo channel.

(And I apologize, but I can’t help laughing at the fact that the XML feeds were released by the Times specifically for Radio UserLand users, but that UserLand wasn’t able to create a similar readable web page of the feeds because they couldn’t keep Radio UserLand from crashing.)

Excellent — Five Experiments with AOL’s Voice Recognition Software. Does the technology really suck as badly as this?

Which had taken or from all obstacles to the wind up to the nasty deed tonight my proper one beautiful to the world chance I will send out the scene of humor of because I know you check your males oral…

It’s funny — I’ve found myself convincing more people recently about how much cleaner the Hudson River is than they think, and then today, the New York Times went and gave me some cold, hard facts! I love when that happens, and I’d love even more if someone managed to build a beach on the Hudson shore.

Talk about idiocy: today, I received unsolicited email from none other then Sendmail. And to top it all off, what were they advertising? The Sendmail Advanced Anti-Spam Filter [*], “the most powerful email and SPAM filtering solution ever created.” Honestly, it’s sad to see cluelessness from the company that’s responsible for such a huge proportion of mail transport on the Internet.

[*] I’m not linking to the product because I’m not going to be responsible for sending business their way.