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Monday, 31 March 2003

Help, I'm stuck in 1990

Yesterday, along with the copy protected shiny thing that plays music, I also picked up a copy of Total Recall on DVD. I hadn't seen it in a while, and was reminded of it when we were talking in #evanchan about the new security portals that were installed recently at Heathrow (they look cool, but not as cool as what looked like a millimetre wave display on Total Recall).

My, that film's aged.

Total Recall is very similar to another Arnie film, The Sixth Day:

Sixth Day

Total Recall

Arnie gets up, sees an advert for spangly new technology and goes to work as a ridiculously over-muscled chopper/plane pilot

Arnie gets up, sees an advert for spangly new technology and goes to work as a ridiculously over-muscled construction worker.

Arnie has a conversation with a work colleague and gets persuaded to do something that's full of spangly new technology like cloning the family pet.

Arnie has a converation with a work colleague and gets persuaded to do something that's full of spangly new technology like taking a memory implant of a trip to Mars instead of going there.

After said spangly new technology, Arnie wakes up in an automatically driven cab where he pays by thumbprint.

After said spangly new technology, Arnie wakes up in an automatically driven cab where he pays by thumbprint driven by a scary sub-Hensonesque Johnny cab puppet.

Something has gone Horribly Wrong whereupon the new spangly technology of asking for a cloned pet bizarrely results in Arnie's life being irrevocably changed for the worse if, for this particular example, we take worse as meaning a combination of:

Something has gone Horribly Wrong whereupon the new spangly technology of asking for a cloned pet bizarrely results in Arnie's life being irrevocably changed for the worse if, for this particular example, we take worse as meaning a combination of:

  • crashing a few cars
  • killing a whole bunch of people (admittedly more of this in Total Recall than in Sixth Day)
  • discovering that your wife isn't your wife/discovering that your wife is sleeping with the Other You

It's here that Sixth Day and Total Recall diverge. Whilst Sixth Day has a whole host of technologies that we expect from "the near future" and was released in 2000, Total Recall is set in the 2080s, a good 90 years after it was filmed in 1990.

Things we can learn about living in 2080 after having watched Total Recall:

Computer displays will be everywhere. Unfortunately, they will all be CRTs with fishbowl-effect curvature, and none of those displays will be larger than fouteen inches. They will also have a hideously low refresh rate, which means that anyone selling migraine or headache medication will be a wise investment on the stock exchange. There's also a curious affectation of rotating displays around ninety degrees so that they're in portrait orientation. There might be a few holographic displays, but they'll be exclusively reserved for displaying tennis training lessons run by the latest fad: late 80s dressed sports instructors.

While computer displays themselves might be everywhere--or video ones at least--any comnputers that we do have will look like the electronic typewriters of today, only with a small ten inch CRT attached to them via an arm. There will only be one of those in the entire world, but that's okay. One scientist will be allowed to have a tablet PC.

All cars will be angularly styled and have a characteristic electric whine. Fortunately, the Toyota Prius hybrid already has that characteristic electric whine, so we're well on the way.

Passports will still be made of paper, immigration controls will still be performed by irritable young men, inked visa stamps will still be... inked stamps.

People under extreme stress will still want to splash their faces in cold water.

Ikea clearly doesn't exist in the future, because all furniture is gunmetal grey and strictly functional. Bright colours are not tolerated at all.

No one has a mobile phone, but videophones are everywhere. They're the ones using the portrait orientation displays.

They still have GPS tracking devices, only this time they can show you a 3D rendered view of where the tracked object is. Just like these.

Oh, I almost forgot. We'll have colonised Mars. There's realism for you...

It's interesting to see how much has changed since 1990, when Total Recall was released. Whoever worked on the film missed out a whole plethora of personal comms and display devices and succumbed to the "but at least we'll have different cars in the future" belief that most SF films subscribe to. I'm all for watching Minority Report in thirteen years' time.

35 comments and trackbacks

Saturday, 29 March 2003

Why'd you have to go and make things so complicated?

I have a confession to make. This afternoon, I succumbed to a carefully orchestrated campaign designed to make me buy this CD.

That's right: Avril Lavignes sassy presentation and her catchy, angst-ridden teen-punk lyrics have pummelled me into submission. Complicated was bad enough, and though Sk8er Boi might not have survived being deconstructed, I felt that there wasn't much I could do than identify with a hip young alternative sixteen year old girl who stops traffic in a major city, then inevitably gets arrested for inciting a riot.

So far, so happy consumer. Until, of course, I tried to do what lots of happy consumers do nowadays, namely rip, mix and burn. Or, in my case, iPod. It turns out that Avril's CD is copy protected; it says this on the case in some sort of three point font where you're informed that the disc employs some sort of mechanism which means that although it should play back properly on CD audio players, you may encounter problems if you wish to play back on a computer. To this end, there's apparently some sort of Windows application that you can use if you wish to listen to the music on a PC.

I don't want to listen to the music on a PC. Well, I do. But I want to rip the CD, I want it in iTunes, I want it on my iPod, I want to be able to copies those MP3s to my Windows desktop and listen to it there, too.

The CD does look different--there's a visible ring where what seems like the data session has been burnt to the disc. Presumably it's supposed to fool a multi-session aware drive into thinking that there's only one data track.

I found the receipt. I was all ready to return Avril's masterpiece until I figured that I might as well try feeding it into the laptop and seeing what iTunes could come up with.

The disc went in all right, but OS X and the laptop drive had to think for about fifteen to twenty seconds before an Audio CD icon popped on to the desktop, then, about a second later, a second icon for a data CD appeared. The conversation probably went a little like this:

Drive: Oooh, yum. A CD. Gobble gobble gobble.
OS X: Very nice, very nice. What's it say?
Drive: Oh, a whole bunch of stuff. Er.
OS X: Er?
Drive: Um. I think this CD's schizo.
OS X: What do you mean, schizo?
Drive: Well, see, there's your normal Audio CD part...
OS X: Thank you kindly, let's mount that and stick an icon to it on the desktop.
Drive: A capital idea!
OS X: Why, thank you. Now, you said there was something else?
Drive: I'm not exactly sure, but there's some sort of data session, too.
OS X: It's probably useless. Oh well. We should mount it anyway.
Drive: Sure! Here you go! OS X: Woohoo! Now let's go start iTunes...

Ha! Copy protection only worked on Windows computers! iTunes had happily popped up and was graciously offering to rip the entire CD to my hard drive whereupon I could transfer it wholesale to my MP3 player.

Avril, thank you!

6 comments and trackbacks

Oh, grow up

  • Lawmakers urge cancellation of military catering contract awarded to French company.
  • The French government deserves a large share of blame for every death in Iraq, including U.S., English and even Iraqi losses.
  • French's Mustard isn't French.
  • French Boycott C'est Tres Difficile.
  • Anti-French sentiment results in cancelled trade mission to Louisiana.
  • Vegas-area transportation officials want to cancel a contract for French-built busses.
  • Unease over the French flag at Little Falls, sister city of Le Bourget.
  • I correct them. I say, You mean freedom fries, waitress Diane Ashby said, who said the change has been in place for the past two weeks, and receiving a positive response from customers.
  • House Bill 2917 in Texas would triple the state's taxes on French wine.
  • And Chirac can grow up, too.

2 comments and trackbacks

Friday, 28 March 2003

There she goes again

  • Via Brad, Edward Tufte examines a PowerPoint slide. Brilliant.
  • Rich Baker on Genes, People and Languages. Every few months, Cavalli-Sforza keeps popping up in my life.
  • Sometimes hype really pisses me off. Smart Mobs links to a Washington Post article that claims, says the blog, Iraqis are using smart mob tactics. What're smart mob tactics in this instance? Having spotters alert gunners by cellphone. What the fuck is so smart about that? Hm? I mean, isn't that what humans have been doing for thousands of years? Huh? They're just doing it with phones!
  • Steven Frank has a Keanu reaction to his song gaining attention.
  • Slashdot on that GSM vs. CDMA in Iraq thing looks like a sure-fire troll guaranteed to up page impressions.Infoworld says that the Patriot system might be buggy. The last mentions of the Patriot I could find in the Risks Digest were in vol 12.1 and vol 13.46.
  • Oh, crap. That's me. I'm sure someone can top 135. Brent, for example. More on this later, I expect.
  • Yoz on DST and Movable Type.
  • Jeremy Zawodny on interviewing at Google (not him, someone else).

5 comments and trackbacks

Thursday, 27 March 2003

Buffer Overflow

Matt is an evil genius (related and funny).

35 comments and trackbacks

I've never seen an angel

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Wednesday, 26 March 2003

Peer Influences

Thanks to Tom's prompting, I've tidied up the design of the two weblogs here, ext|circ and ext|linklog. Text is now rendered slightly differently--the stylesheet now specifies relative, not absolute, font sizes, so resize away using your browser to your heart's content. The sidebar on the right has had a few changes to its text to hopefully make it clearer, and the "about" pages have been trimmed and rewritten. Comments, display bugs, etc. are welcome as always.

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We like our fun and we never fight

  • Because what the world needs right now is more PPC970/WWDC rumours (and later that day, even more). I'll go out, buy a hat and then eat it if there's 2.3GHz PPC970 Macs out by the end of the year.
  • Steven Frank tells us that Panic has got an XServe: "Just to convince ourselves that it worked, we suppressed decades of conditioning and pulled one of them out while the machine was up and running. An amber light came on, as if to say, "hey, you should think about checking out the hard drive situation", but otherwise nary a complaint."
  • John Gruber on Apple pulling Safari seeds.
  • Hyatt on WebCore 68.
  • Oooh, Giles is talking about Camino and Safari on O'Reilly. As a side note, I've noticed that Safari has replaced Internet Explorer in the recent UK print ads for the 17in PowerBook.
  • In other browser news, Phoenix 0.6 is due in April.
  • Magnetic tape used in an experimental data recorder recovered from Columbia is intact.
  • Phoenix is looking nicer.
  • Aaron Swartz is cool in that Randy Waterhouse kind of way.
  • Infosync has a review of Nokia's 3650. Nokia, by the way, has a stupid website, because URLs like http://www.nokia.com/3650/ don't work, compared to Sony Ericsson where URLs like http://www.sonyericsson.com/t610/ do.
  • Also from Infosync, Ogg Vorbis is coming to the P800.
  • Okay, fine. So everyone's linking to that Adobe page with the graphs showing that PCs are faster than Macs. No one's disputing that they're not. They might, though, take issue with Adobe's graphs (look closely). If they change them, they're mirrored here and here.
  • Tanglewood will be the successor to Itanium, reports The Register.
  • Cory's notes of Sergey Brin at PC Forum 2003: the risks and benefits of doing an IPO, and more rationale behind that purchase.
  • Of course, Google could be growing evil and spamming.
  • More Firefly news: it's coming to DVD.
  • IBM will also be manufacturing nVidia chips.
  • Adrian writes about a common problem with old computer hardware.
  • Not only do I like the phrase iridescent nanospheres, but they hold great promise for electronic paper.Cal on writing robust PHP.

39 comments and trackbacks

Tuesday, 25 March 2003

I read bad poetry into your machine

  • Yesterday evening saw the release of a new OS X security update and AirPort software. The former can be found in software update.
  • An interview with Mike Davidson of ESPN over their switch to CSS layout - 2TB/day bandwith savings projected.
  • A Washington Post article on spotting suspicious things: "The sign above the highway leading into the nation's capital advised motorists to "Report Suspicious Activity" and gave an 800 number for the Office of Homeland Security..."
  • Also from the WaPo: wiretaps and records searches are up; 170 Ashcroft-signed "emergency foreign intelligence warrants", three times more than the number authorised in the last twenty three years.
  • It looks like the UK will be getting Firefly in May, via Whedonesque.
  • Bronwen didn't like Cube 2: Hypercube. Pity. Its precedecessor was good.
  • Smartphone shipments to overtake PDA shipments in EMEA, reports The Register. Not a surprise. I really do wish El Reg would tidy up its presentation, every so often (and it's getting quite often), there's horrendous typos, sentences that fail to make any sense whatsoever and a complete inability to understand how to make a link.
  • Three culls from Gizmodo today: Nokia is going to make mobiles that can roam between 802.11b and GPRS, Sony's new Small Biped Entertainment Robot (I swear it's Sony that's forging ahead into Supertoys Last All Summer Long territory) and rumours of a new Palm OS 5 powered, colour screen, digital camera Zire
  • Matt attempts to put into words the effect that reading Greg Egan has on you.
  • CNet News says "Madonna is selling her new antiwar single, "American Life" on her Web site, charging $1.49 for the download of a high-quality, wholly unrestricted MP3 file."
  • Absolutely wonderful guerilla advertising on the Underground.
  • Before there was Ashcroft, before there was Ridge, before there was ready.gov, there was Protect and Survive.
  • Notes on Will Wright at PC Forum 2003.
  • BT and LastMinute.com announced a deal that would see DVD rental by post provided in 1,300 net kiosks around the country. Yawn. The service and price point sounded familiar: it's powered by movietrak, who I've used before and are pretty good.

0 comments and trackbacks

Monday, 24 March 2003

Automated community discovery

On the reading list: Email as Spectroscopy: Automated Discovery of Community Structure within Organizations.

Joshua R. Tyler, Dennis M. Wilkinson, Bernardo A. Huberman
Statistical Mechanics
Thu, 20 Mar 2003 01:58:20 GMT

We describe a methodology for the automatic identification of communities of practice from email logs within an organization. We use a betweeness centrality algorithm that can rapidly find communities within a graph representing information flows. We apply this algorithm to an email corpus of nearly one million messages collected over a two-month span, and show that the method is effective at identifying true communities, both formal and informal, within these scale-free graphs. This approach also enables the identification of leadership roles within the communities. These studies are complemented by a qualitative evaluation of the results in the field. [arXiv, full text pdf, Nature]

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Take off all your preppy clothes

  • Giggle. Mac rumour sites and politics. At the same site, a recap of Apple's hardware lineup.
  • More John Gruber: a followup article on the anti-anti-aliasing theme: Bitmap like it's 1989.
  • The NY Times has an article about Americans living in rural France. Is that embedding, too?
  • The Telegraph's naive human shield.
  • Arab News editorial tells of BBC journos confusing Ramadan with Friday, 60 embedded journos being expelled for compromising security. I was watching CNN today and saw a reporter say that CNN had left Iraq "because of fears for their safety", which clashes somewhat with reports that they'd been expelled for being a propaganda tool. I don't know if I can believe them after last time.
  • Yesterday's Sunday Times brings news of antiwar schoolchildren demos being ripe recruiting ground for far-left political parties. This pisses me off.
  • Good Forbes article on how the patent system seems to be going horribly wrong (via slashdot)
  • Alfonso Cuaron politicises Harry Potter in an interview with the NY Times: "The evil Voldemort is very similar to Saddam Hussein. Or George Bush. They're really the same. I believe George Bush and Saddam Hussein should go to a desert island together and relax." It's bad enough that Bin Laden or Saddam might be Hari Seldon.
  • Slashdot on GIS. Oh, and there's also talking about the next rev of OS X, Panther, at Slashdot. Because that's where you for informed comment.
  • Via MobileBurn, the future is calling: your watchphones are ready, but the flying cars are on hold.
  • Via Gizmodo, fabric is getting smarter, with soft-fabric mobile phones.
  • Two pieces from a trawl of interview with Microsoft's Gordon "MyLifeBits" Bell and codenames used by Microsoft. Guess which journo posted those links...
  • Oli has updated that scraped BBC Iraq: Latest RSS feed, we might find out soon if there'll be an official feed.
  • Via Arie, news that war news coverage in the US was beaten by a repeat of 'Friends'.

31 comments and trackbacks

Sunday, 23 March 2003

A year is just a drop in time

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Friday, 21 March 2003

A thirty seven thousand foot wanderlust

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Thursday, 20 March 2003

Non-story of the day

This from the BBC:

Net users eager for news of the conflict are turning to the web to keep up with the latest developments. [more]

We suggest:

Newspaper readers eager for news of the conflict are turning to newspapers to keep up with the latest developments.

What's that, you say? The Inter-net? No, dear, I get my news from the televisionophone.

34 comments and trackbacks

Weapon of choice

  • Light linklog updates for the time being, my laptop's still refusing to work with airport of any kind, never mind the 'replacement card shipped from Apple' kind. Tech support reluctantly suggest me sending the whole thing off to them, but I'm going to try a nuke-and-pave reinstall of 10.2 tonight/tomorrow. Like you cared anyway...
  • Gore joins Apple. No, it's not a joke. Here's Apple's PR. Macslash and slashdot have coverage, and for the nth time: shut up about Al Gore and the internet.
  • iPod Software Update is updated to version 1.2.6, it makes batteries last longer or something.
  • The Danger Hiptop Sidekick Thing SDK is out.
  • Not a blog, but a Reporters' Log.
  • Nokia 7650 can record video now.
  • Google UI.
  • More Safari stuff.
  • ha
  • MIT Press rock.

0 comments and trackbacks

Tuesday, 18 March 2003

Countdown to war

I was going to wonder who was going to do this first, and to be honest, I thought it was going to be Fox News. I was wrong. It was MSNBC: they're the first to display an on-screen clock counting down from 48 hours. Here are some pictures I took:

While we're at it, there's also this screenshot I took of Google News.

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You will fly, and you will crawl

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Monday, 17 March 2003

War, what is it good for?

24 hour rolling news coverage, apparently:

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A thousand stars came into my system

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Sunday, 16 March 2003


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Saturday, 15 March 2003


  • Some quick Mac stuff: rumours of a 30in LCD from Apple, an O'Reilly article on X11, and NetNewsWire 1.0.1 is out (dmg.sit)
  • Via Metafilter, an amusing Christian Science Monitor article on words with French roots. Related: I finally got around to learning about the CSM's history, plus they have a bunch of RSS feeds.
  • Via The Culture, the DeLong effect, on personal spaces and flame wars.
  • New Scientist says that Sony can fit 30 hours of "MP3 music" on a single blank CD by using "the ultra-efficient data compression system used in MiniDiscs", which implies they'll be using ATRAC (old article), a lossy compression system, to compress MP3 encoded music. My brain is screaming that this makes no sense to me. It's getting increasingly difficult for me to work out what, exactly, New Scientist is blathering on about sometimes.
  • News at Whedonesque of an Angel RPG.
  • Wired's wishlist for 2013 is disappointingly unimaginative.
  • Tablet PCs are selling well, it looks like Pen Windows' time has come.
  • Adrian has been playing Freelance.
  • MobileBurn covers two new Nokia phones launched at CeBIT: the 3300 and the 6220.
  • 3G is here in the UK.
  • Orson Scott Card short story Dogwalker features in eWeek article about the Texas "hack".
  • One of two results from today's trawl of the Guardian: Social Change by Degrees.
  • And the second: PM's cupboard full of secret gifts. Blair got a half case of wine and a half case of cognac from Chirac, and a holdall from Bush.

1 comments and trackbacks

Friday, 14 March 2003

Franco^H^H^H^H^H^HFreedom American

Campbell Soup Company must be kicking themselves: amongst their brands, nestling between Campbells and Pace Foods is Franco-American Gravies and Franco-American Spaghettios.

Quite how American "patriots" are going to reconcile a need for gravies and spaghettios with a visceral hatred for anything French is beyond me. Perhaps Campbells will urgently rebrand as Freedom-American Gravies and Freedom-American Spaghettios.

40 comments and trackbacks

Friday Afternoon

  • Thanks to Andrew at Brio, who's posted to his blog T-Mobile's response to a query about their UK Hotspot pricing policy. Yes, the one with silly pricing.
  • 2lmc's spool covers today's Mirror and Sun front covers.
  • More from 2lmc: it's not just me, OS X has a habit of saving empty preference files if your hd is full. Apple bites.
  • Pick and choose from security updates (or anything, really), if you don't want to do a full OS X reinstall. Is there any way to mount and unpack .dmg.bin files from the command line? Ah, here it is, thanks to blech.
  • Poseidon for UML Community Edition is, apart from a longwinded application name, a mostly-free Java-based UML CASE tool.
  • The readme for SPIN, because we're doing LTL model checking. Here's what SPIN does.
  • The BBC says that Astra 2D's footprint is tightly focussed. New Scientists says that satellite experts beg to differ.
  • The Register reports that China is shifting PS2 production to China to reduce costs (why else?), with a price cut in the works.
  • At jerakeen.org, a web frontend for a not-iTunes music player. As web front ends go, my favourite so far is w00tmp3 (part of w00tsweet), but only because it lets the #evanchan crew dictate what music Arie listens to.
  • Via Haddock, Be a Thinker, Not a Breeder.

63 comments and trackbacks

Friday morning

  • New 12in PowerBook owner likes new 12in PowerBook. Film at eleven.
  • The story of SmartyPants for Movable Type, at Daring Fireball.
  • A particularly Onionesque story at Crazy Apple Rumors.
  • A Florida Congresswoman wants the US government to pay for families who want to repatriate the remains of soldiers fought and died in world wars (Metafilter discussion). I fully expect enterprising individuals in the US government to either send back, or blow up, the Statue of Liberty^H^H^H^H^H^H^HFreedom any day now.
  • Oh, and while we're at it? I was watching Ari Fleischer do a press briefing yesterday. Someone asked him why the President was bothering with this charade of diplomacy when he'd quite clearly made up his mind. Fleischer paused a moment, then responded starting with "If I'm not mistaken, the word charade has French roots..." Oh for fuck's sake, grow up, all of you. (Ta muchly to Eccles on the Culture list, who has supplied the transcript for yesterday's briefing. Search for charade. Clap palms to cheeks, open mouth in Culkin-style horror)
  • Gizmodo is wondering whether T-Mobile has dropped the Sidekick.
  • InfoSync has a review of the Sony Clie PEG-TG50.
  • Cheney is still getting paid by Halliburton.
  • Steven Frank wants ideas for amusing iPod engravings.
  • Make Google News work for you. Thank God for the Gnews2RSS.
  • There's a roadmap for NetNewsWire.
  • Steven Johnson has a new column up on social network mapping software.

36 comments and trackbacks

Wear Sunscreen, or, Keep Backups

So yesterday, thanks to Tom Dolan's prompting, I tried downloading Apple's December 2002 Developer Tools in 30 10MB segments instead of one 300MB download. Every single time I'd tried to grab the 300MB download it had stalled at around 50% or 98%. The segmented download worked, and I was terribly happy and began installing the new tools, mainly because I needed to start using Java 1.4.1. Until Entourage popped up a dialog on the screen:

"You don't have enough disk space. Just thought you'd like to know. I'm going to close myself now."

Oooh, thanks. So I checked. Yes, I was out of disk space. This was not good. I frantically deleted a number of Quicktime files I'd been hoarding (some of the Animatrix shorts), and freed up around 300MB or so. The installer finished. It wanted to reboot, I agreed. NetNewsWire crashed. Eh, I thought.

The laptop came back up, I logged in, and... something wasn't quite right. The dock didn't look right, for starters: there were far too many Apple apps in it. Aside from iTunes and iChat, there was some bizarre Apple logo on a spring next to my trash and some insane person had stuck every single Apple iApp in my dock. All of them! From Address Book to Mail to iPhoto to iMovie. The only thing missing was Safari.

Panic is usually a good course of action around now. The files that were on my desktop were prior to the heart-attack-inducing-reboot were, thankfully, still on my desktop. My network connection settings were still there. I loaded up Entourage, was was particularly happy that it reported no problems at all with its nigh on 1GB worth of mail. Then, I loaded up NetNewsWire, and discovered to my horror that apparently I only dreamed about being an infovore because I was only subscribed to, say, fifteen news sources.

Fifteen RSS subscriptions does not an infovore make. I'm sure that last time I checked, I had around one hundred and fifty. Typically, the last time I'd backed up to an OPML file was, say, over a month ago, and I'd added at least a few subscriptions since then. Well, at least ~/Library/Application Support/NetNewsWire/Cache/ was still intact. Or as intact as it could be, now that a horrifying bunch of it wasn't being updated.

Oh well. At least the Developer Tools work now. And I'm all Java 1.4.1_1-ified. I still can't persuade the System Preferences to make Google my homepage, though.

3 comments and trackbacks

Thursday, 13 March 2003

Thursday morning

  • I tried that PowerBook trick (it worked)
  • The Sony Ericsson P800 doesn't work with iSync, but a (doubtful) rumour says this will be fixed by 10.3.
  • Old news by now (you know it's old when it's hit slashdot) but: world's first brain prosthesis is an artificial hippocampus. Adrian has a good take on this.
  • One man stands between biological terrorism and Baltimore.
  • Live in the UK and seen the TV show Three's Company? Bronwen needs your help (scroll down to the bottom of the entry).
  • NetNewsWire Pro's latest beta is now 1.0.1fc1.
  • Metafilter talks about the US military and its relationship with the media.
  • The Zupera neXP is an XP Tablet with an 8.4in screen that looks strikingly like what the oqo was going to be, had it actually come out (via Gizmodo).
  • Where else would you expect to see trackbacks? Why, in Winamp. It's beautiful.
  • mpt on replacing Internet Explorer with Phoenix (it can be done).
  • A review of the Vonage voice over IP service (via Boing Boing).
  • There's an interview with Lawrence Lessig in the Guardian today, at least it's not as ugly as that Blogger/Google debacle.
  • Steven Frank writes about sdl and lua
  • Azeem has an explanation of how the BBC/SkyDigital deal will save the BBC 85m a year by switching satellites.

0 comments and trackbacks

Wednesday, 12 March 2003

Wednesday morning

  • Dear mother of God, make it stop: OS X Mail might be going metal? Bear in mind that this was reported at Spymac, that bastion of accurate Mac reporting. My, you can just about scrape the sarcasm off the air it's so thick in here.
  • Oh well, at least it's not all bad: via 2lmc's spool, an extremely funky music management app where you get to move album covers around.
  • NetNewsWire 1.0.1b5 is out, I still haven't tried anything beyond version 1, check out the change notes.
  • Hyatt clarifies antialiasing in Safari after Yet Another John Gruber rant, talks about yet more CSS control-freakery and then points out in comments that the differences in Camino/Safari rendering are due to Quartz (CoreGraphics) and Quickdraw. Speaking of which, doesn't Hyatt work on webcore? Shouldn't Apple have an army of thousands of HCI specialists devoted to the thorny issue of developing something better than tabs?
  • Huh. Steven Frank writes about Panic's release of Desktastic 3.0, which is a shock to me because I bought the damn thing when it came out and then completely forgot about it a few weeks later.
  • Buy a combo meal at McDonald's, get wi-fi. No, surely "hang around outside McDonalds asking people who buy combo meals to donate their wi-fi because, really, you're just a tiny geek minority with your 802.11b enabled laptop or PDA, aren't you". Take my laptop to McDonald's? I'd rather smear it in brent crude, thank you very much.
  • Shinza is probably lethal to credit cards. Well, no. It's probably Visa's best friend.
  • Via Gizmodo, a successor for Bluetooth: 802.15.3a; ultra wideband and "100 times faster than Bluetooth". Seeing as how Bluetooth can just about hit 1mbit/s, that isn't particularly fast. Firewire over no wire, instead, thank you very much
  • There's a nice thread on Metafilter about Bush Snr's speech to Bush Jnr. that more or less devolves into (funny at first) parody and (inevitable) Monty Python sketches.
  • Again via Gizmodo, Frog Design and Motorola Offspring wearables concepts.
  • Infosync have details on Sony Ericsson's HBM-30 Bluetooth MP3 player.
  • America: better than being raped or shot.
  • Bronwen reviews The Core; all movie reviews should conclude with an "at" and "with" score.
  • Ow: iBooks don't get thirsty. Oh, and I learned that Sony digital cameras don't like Diet Coke.
  • Hah. Freedom Kissing.
  • In the UK? Near a Dixons or PC World? Buy a GameCube, they're going cheap.
  • Oh, and if you're in the US and like Eddie Izzard, then you should watch The Late Show with David Letterman tonight (March 12). If your're able to remember things for around two weeks (I know I can't), then you'll also want to watch Late Night with Conan O'Brien on March 25th (don't worry, I'll remind you then, too).

3 comments and trackbacks

Tuesday, 11 March 2003

No, really, is this a joke?

It won't be long until T-Mobile's UK trial of hotspots reaches its end and we suddenly have to pay for wireless access in Starbucks. Well, fine: it wasn't going to last forever. On the 31st March, four pre-pay tarrifs will be introduced, ranging from 60 minutes for 5.50 to a day pass for 16.50. This will be available in 56 Starbucks across the country.

But wait. T-Mobile has recently slashed hotspot prices in the US so that from 1 March, a day pass will cost $6. For those UK residents keeping count and who want to know exactly how much their jaw should be dropping, that's 4, making the UK day pass 4.125 times more expensive.

Insane. Insane and bloody typical. Don't even get me started on flat rate GPRS data charges, either.

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Tuesday morning

  • Quote of the day (and it's only 8:50) has got to be Tam Dalyell on the Today programme describing as "vomit-making" a previous story on the US awarding $900m worth of Iraq rebuilding contracts to American (and only American) companies. One of the contracts went to Halliburton.We like Halliburton so much because a) their ex CEO was Dick Cheney, b) they've been implicated in improper accounting practices, and c) they're just plain evil.
  • The Pentagon has spent $200,000 on constructing a television set for American military commanders to present daily updates, reports the Times. The set was built in Chicago and reputedly FedExed over for $47,000 and has five 50in plasma screens and two 70in television projection screens.
  • Apple has finally updated OS X to Java 1.4.1. New improvements and additions include, amongst others, the ability to Applescript Java. There's a readme, and the update clocks in at 30MB via Software Update or bin disk image. This news would be much more exciting if I could download the December Dev Tools without it stalling at around 98% each time.
  • Parts two and three of AlwaysOn Network's interview with Sony's Idei are now online. AlwaysOn Network has a stupid URL, but an interesting interview. Salient points: Sony say they aren't worried about the XBox, and Idei loves iLife, calling it a model of what Sony wants to achieve.
  • There might be a prototype PPC970 Mac at this May's Apple Worldwide Developer Conference. Yawn.
  • The Google weblog on the day without Google.
  • Brad proves yet again that Economists are funny.
  • No doubt pleasing some of my American friends, David Aaronvitch's column in the Guardian today contends that the British need more therapy.
  • Oh, and more for American readers: Sue Ellicott wrote in The Times yesterday on what happens when you displace your children from sunny California to dreary London. It seems that the lack of expensive astroturf in school playgrounds here is a, um, sore point.
  • Gizmodo may say that this is vaguely unsettling, I say that it's pretty damn cool: a new Bluetooth headset from Samsung eschews the traditional, nay, Victorian, sensibility of using a microphone to pick up resonating air around your head, for the positively twenty first century concept of using a microphone to pick up resonating bone inside your head.
  • Gizmodo says that SACD players use RCA cables, and that Firewire's a much better idea (good job that's what Sony's doing). I could've sworn that people would be able to use, say, TOSLINK or SPDIF instead. Oh well (please prove me wrong and explain why).
  • Stumbling upon the blog of someone who works at the BBC is always fun. Stumbling upon the blog of someone who works at the BBC and plays (I use the term loosely) with search logs is even more fun (via 2lmc's spool)
  • Oh, and also from the above: Another RIP SI is due. Quick, do it while we're distracted by the war on terror. I mean Iraq. Or whatever.
  • Nice to know that AOLTW still doesn't get it, their TIVO beater will let you do everything that Tivo does, with the added benefit to the consumer that if the network doesn't want you to, then you won't be able to do it. Sorry. Did I say added benefit to the consumer? I must've slipped.
  • Short notes on the Google panel at SXSW.
  • Fred Durst wasn't right, he was lucky. Via Bronwen.
  • Oh, and today's Den Beste quote? "Maybe after we get done straightening out the Middle East we should start on Europe." Okay, fine, it's (vaguely) out of context. But still!

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Sunday, 09 March 2003

Broken Google!

The sky is falling; Google is breaking (17:47 GMT 9 March 2003) with the following error message:

Server Error
The server encountered a temporary error and could not complete your request.

Please try again in a minute or so.

The error seems to be limited to only a few of Google's servers--try your query a few more times and it'll get through.

It seems other people have noticed, too. Oh, and the Google dance is in session.

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Thursday, 06 March 2003

All beast-like on yo' ass

Look! I helped with this. Sorry. Dashing off to a lecture. More later, undoubtedly.

Edit: Some people may be labouring under the impression that I had something to do with the article (I didn't). What I meant was that I helped with this, which is slightly different. I think (but am not sure) that it's based on an article that appeared in the NYT's Best Ideas of 2001, since the tone is somewhat familiar (rabid fan journalist).

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Thursday morning

  • My friend Adam is going to be speaking at the First Annual MUD-Dev Conference (he's the one speaking on "An evolving architecture for evolving MMOGs").
  • Steven Frank on the Mac software ghetto.
  • Hacking USB-wireless drivers for the Mac, via Apple Airport Weblog.
  • Microsoft has updated its RDC Client (no, not Remote Desktop Client Client, Remote Desktop Connection Client) to 1.0.1. God knows what they've changed.
  • T68i on OS X at but she's a girl...
  • The Inquirer brings news of a wireless music player from Sony. It doesn't look like Sony made it.
  • CNet also has a roundup of yesterday's new SE phones, the T310/T316 and T610/T616. Um, and some other ones. We're not really interested in those. They quite clearly missed a branding opportunity with the latest Terminator film, too. Via Gizmodo.
  • Zeldman on Safari vs. Camino, via Blogzilla.
  • Sony's PlayStation 2 is due for a price cut, says Wired.
  • Google's textads are now available on other sites (and yes, they are the new weird large-format text-ads on Slashdot)
  • Pretty cool Java visualisation (if you think bar and pie charts are cool) of CDC disease data, via Metafilter. At least, it would be, if it weren't damn slow. You probably want to click the "make bigger" icon thing if you're looking at it in Chimera, though.
  • Infoporn: Unesco Statistics. Check out the Culture and Communication (Book production! Cinema capacity! Daily newspapers!) and Science and Technology (R&D breakdowns! R&D employment!) datasets.
  • Columbia reconstruction hanger photographs, via jwz.
  • Human Interface Subtleties, via 2lmc, because I lost the slashdot ref from NetNewsWire. Christ, the help system on OS X is a bunch of pants. Good job no one uses it, but not really an excuse.
  • Jeremy Zawodny gets to look through Yahoo's front page logs: "People type the damnest things into the search box on the Yahoo! home page. Every day. There's just a lot of weird shit in the logs. Tons of it."
  • Net::Blogger will let you use the Blogger XML-RPC API in Perl. Cue the end of the world.
  • Probably going to have to remember this for a possible project this summer: text indexing with Apache Jakarta Lucene (sounds like someone's name).
  • Dave Green on weblogs in today's Guardian Online.
  • Tony Benn is doing a live chat with the Guardian today. I wonder if it'll devolve into the same kind of fawning as his interview with Saddam. His appearance on the Today programme the day after that interview aired was nothing short of hilarious.
  • Yay, finally something that backs up what I've been saying for ages: arts degrees reduce earnings. I have an entire rant stored up about this.

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Wednesday, 05 March 2003

Wednesday Morning

  • Yeah, so I'm a day late. Scrub the P800, I want the t610. There's coverage at Mobile Burn (silly name) and Infosync.
  • X-Chat Aqua hits 0.8.0; practically the only thing I use Apple's X11 server for is xchat.
  • Apple is hosting Mac OS X Tech Talk Tour: Unix on the Desktop on the 31st of March at the Crowne Plaza in London, from 1pm to 6pm. It's free. Register here.
  • Useful if you have a DSL connection and use OS X: Apple official documentation on setting the MTU at startup. I shall resist making any kind of "OS X is unix but with a pretty face" remarks at this point.
  • Everyone's all over Apple's (possibly) forthcoming 99 cent music download service: here's the Mercury News's take.
  • MacSlash has an interview with Brent Simmons of NetNewsWire fame. I bought the pro version. I'm happy. You all should, too.
  • There's an unaired Firefly script online on usenet, via Whedonesque, which asks "if a show's cancelled, is a new script spoilery?"
  • Metafilter gets parody. Predictably, you may discuss at Metafilter.
  • Also from Metafilter, Michael Chabon's website has his original treatment for the X-Men movie. Knock yourself out talking about it.
  • Sony Chairman: I really want to own Palm. Via Gizmodo.
  • More evidence that Sony's approach to handheld production is to make a shedload, throw them up into the market and see what sticks: Sony Clie PEG-TG50 announced in Japan.
  • Ah. The second Animatrix episode, Program, is now available.
  • The Times interviews Moby: "Im not like musician friends who routinely have casual sex with fans. I get more discerning groupies who want to talk to me about my music."
  • Charlie Stross on Thatcher.
  • More traditional PsyOps in Iraq: leaflets, via Haddock.
  • 46% of Americans see themselves as evangelical or born again Christians, Bush isn't persuaded on evolution, 48% of Americans believe in creationism, 28% in evolution. Twice as many (68%) believe in the devil over evolution, then. And Europe (well, the continental parts like Germany and France) are old? A not-so-fun op/ed at the New York Times.
  • I'm terribly sorry: Which underground tube line are you?

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Tuesday, 04 March 2003

Tuesday morning

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Monday, 03 March 2003

Monday morning

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