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Saturday, September 30, 2000

Microsoft's Blank Slate
"Welcome to Microsoft(R) Windows NT 4.0 Option Pack," the site [slate.msn.com] proclaimed. No Michael Kinsley-edited political essays, no self-referential squabbles with other cultural websites -- just the default page displayed by a freshly installed Web server.

Friday, September 29, 2000



Visit the George W Dance
Computer Science vs. Computer Programming is a short essay and ensuing discussion at advogato.net on the inadequacies of the online medium in fostering and encouraging disciplined thought and writing. He's right you know.
A List Apart: Indie Exposure.
What ultimately attracts people to the web is the power of the individual to inform, entertain, and empower. People are far more likely to forward the URLs for StinkyMeat or the latest price list for early American art glass to their pals then they are to forward the URL for an IBM or a Coke.
That is so right on.
E-Commerce Times: Notes from the E-Commerce Chopping Block. Some quotes and notes:
"The Man" will never stop peer-to-peer computing, as in music file-swapping.
Word.
E-books are a bad idea, and the reason is simple: You can't curl up with a computer.
1) Soon you will be able to. 2) You don't want to curl up with all books. 3) You can't run a "search" on a paperback.
I will never buy pants online. A size 32-waist in one store is a 36-inch waist in another. Or shirts. A shirt has to hang just right before I'll buy it.
L.L. Bean is doing just fine.
Is it arrogance, stupidity or a complete detachment from reality that makes certain e-decision-makers presume the majority of humans crave 24/7 attachment to the Web?

The latest news from that front is that Yahoo! has unleashed some purple taxis in New York that are rigged with Internet connections to serve the legions of Americans who can't get across town without an online fix.
The assumption that someone who could use the internet connection in a taxi is getting an "online fix" to satisfy their need for "24/7 attachment to the Web" is so wrongheaded I can't stand it. The internet is a useful resource, and I can think of many ways I could use that resource in the middle of my day in a taxi going across town. Or on the way to the airport. Anybody that can't is an idiot.
The Late, Great Interactive TV: Some technologies are ahead of the times. This one is way behind.
I think that's true, but then I've never seen interactive TV.
By all accounts, broadband providers have bungled in just about every conceivable way, from the delay in rolling out infrastructure to poor customer service, unrealistic pricing, and the failure to offer access to minorities and rural dwellers. Super idea. Terrible execution.
Who doesn't know this?

In the end, I am the idiot for reading and taking this article seriously, then taking the time to respond to such over-inflated hyper-opinionated journalism.

Talk about hyper-opinionated...
I just installed the Adove SVG plug-in and checked out a few samples at BurningPixel. Pretty cool. Here's a new introductory article to go along with those at pinkjuice.com: SVG - A New Standard in Web Graphics.
MetaFilter led Taylor to this great QT movie featuring an all Atari 2600 soundtrack, which led me to retrogames.com, which pointed to this catalog of Mame roms, which explains why I'm about to play Mr. Do.
MyFonts.com: WhatTheFont
Have you ever seen a font in a magazine and said, "Hey, that's cool!" But you didn't know the name of that font? Let the Myfonts.com WhatTheFont Tool help you out. Upload a scanned image of the font and we'll show you the closest matches in our database!

Thursday, September 28, 2000

Salon Looks to Web-Publishing System as a Way Out of Nasdaq Doldrums:
Salon.com, convinced that its lowly stock is drastically underappreciated, is close to spinning off a homegrown content-publishing tool in hopes of unlocking some of that hidden-to-the-market value.
Related link: Industrial Strength Publishing by Ian Kallen, manager of systems and software for Salon.com.
On the Web, Price Tags Blur -- an article not only on Amazon's recent price changing experiments, but on dynamic pricing schemes in general. My favorite is the Coke machine that raises its price with the temperature.
Coke Chairman Douglas Ivester noted that people watching, say, a sports championship in summer heat would naturally develop a powerful craving for a drink. "So it's fair that it should be more expensive," he was quoted as telling a Brazilian magazine. "The machine will simply make this process automatic."
I have several friends/acquaintances that are jumping/have leaped into the web log arena recently:
  • Jon Varner, whom you may know from these pages as "V," is the fake dub.
  • Jonathon Barlow tends the Barlow farms.
  • Coming soon, my friends at lineamenta.com will have an architecturally minded web log, which they are letting me help set up.
  • Meanwhile, Derek continues to not have a web log, while Aaron logs away. Sort of.
Feeling ignorant because I knew nothing about the philosopher/logician Willard Van Orman Quine, I went a-searching at dmoz.org and found an interesting quiz on Quine's On What There Is article ("To be is to be the value of a variable") (well explicated by Stephen Yablo, literally), a rebuttal of the prevailing philosophical view that Quine's philosophy utterly rejects analyticia (by Paul Artin Boghossian), and an article on Understanding Quine's Theses of Indeterminacy, which I found on Nick "Rainbows are motherf****rs" Bostrom's excellent home page.

Tangent 1: Nick is a Transhumanist. From the Bostrom authored transhumanism FAQ:
Transhumanism represents a radical new approach to future-oriented thinking that is based on the premise that the human species does not represent the end of our evolution but, rather, its beginning. We formally define it as follows:

(1) The study of the ramifications, promises and potential dangers of the use of science, technology, creativity, and other means to overcome fundamental human limitations.

(2) The intellectual and cultural movement that affirms the possibility and desirability of fundamentally altering the human condition through applied reason, especially by using technology to eliminate aging and greatly enhance human intellectual, physical, and psychological capacities.
Tangent 2: Man oh man, all the broken links I found while looking for info on Quine are so disconcerting! Most were to papers from only a few years back, and as dead links continue to clutter up the web it becomes less and less useful. Or at least less usable. Makes me think robust hyperlinks are a better and better idea.
Morten Wang and the document.write() tests, proving the old aphorism that one document.write() with string concatenation is better than two without.

Wednesday, September 27, 2000

The Quine Page (self-reproducing code):
:quine: /kwi:n/ /n./ [from the name of the logician Willard van Orman Quine, via Douglas Hofstadter] A program that generates a copy of its own source text as its complete output. Devising the shortest possible quine in some given programming language is a common hackish amusement.
Found on Cat's Eye Technologies' Esoteric Topics in Computer Programming page.
OmniUpdate is a pretty lame name for a pretty interesting service that allows you to maintain web pages through a web interface. Problem: it does not allow you to manually enter a directory on your FTP site, so you can't post to hidden directories or ftp virtual directories.
XNS - eXtensible Name Service:
eXtensible Name Service is a new way to exchange information automatically between agents instead of manually via people. Any two people-or any person and any business-who use XNS can instantly exchange information from contact data to credit cards at the click of a button. And then their agents will keep that information synchronized-for life. All under a legally binding privacy contract for every single transaction.
I'm not sure what to think about this. Somebody tell me, please. What should I think about this?
I was just a few days ago bemoaning the fact that AOL had not yet done this: AOL quietly linking AIM, ICQ.
Though AOL hasn't yet publicized the capability, it now is possible for many users of ICQ, which AOL purchased two years ago, to sign on to AOL Instant Messenger and communicate with other ICQ users. The compatibility suggests that AOL may be on its way toward creating a worldwide instant messaging system with 138 million potential users.

Tuesday, September 26, 2000

A couple of primers on performing XSL transformations on XML documents: Creating Summary Reports in XML and XSLT & Creating an e-Book using XML, XSL and CSS.
It looks like the July release of Microsoft's MSXML has near complete support for the W3C's XSLT standards
Milko Musik Maskin. Got shockwave? Direct a video, compose music, see it performed by a cow. Please don't not do this. (It's probably helpful if you speak a little Swedish. I'm just guessing.)

Monday, September 25, 2000

Derek AIMed me a link to a great interview with Mike Moore, the director of development for microsoft.com: XML and www.microsoft.com. If you use XML, especially MSXML, you should give it a read. It even includes links to XSL and XML files in use on their site, like http://www.microsoft.com/catalog/overview.xsl.
Here are some eerie whale songs for your listening pleasure. I hope someone is justly compensating these whales, because I wouldn't want them to bring suit against The Ocean Mammal Institute for illegally distributing their music. [Thanks for the link, V]
I should probably get a set of these String Saver Guitar Saddles:
Utilizing new, breakthrough technology in polymer engineering, you'll never again have to worry about breaking strings. Many guitarists actually feel they play better and with more confidence using String Savers Saddles. Go for those wild bends, player harder and more aggressively, dare that string to break! Try String Savers for 45 days, we guarantee a dramatic, (and we mean night and day DRAMATIC), increase in the life of your strings or we'll refund your money in full.
Wow. What a hectic weekend. Not that I really did that much, but it just took me way too long to get my Behind the Curtain entry finished: A Day in the Life of Eric Costello. I am fairly pleased with it, although I spent too much time on the technical aspects of it and not enough on the writing and narrative. I'll be tweaking it I imagine. Thanks to everybody that has emailed me with corrections; I really should not be writing without an editor.

One thing I noticed looking through the other entries: as good as my digital camera is (Nikon Coolpix 990), and as much I love how quick and easy it is to experiment and learn with it, traditional film still produces superior images. Check out the rich tones Ed captured in this photo from his gallery. I haven't seen colors like that in any digital pictures I have taken. Eventually I am going to have to purchase a nice SLR. And set up a darkroom. Yeah, right.
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