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Saturday, 31 January 2004

Greg Dyke

Anyone have a scan of the Greg Dyke petition/ad in the Daily Telegraph today? I don't particularly fancy buying a copy just to see the ad...

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Friday, 30 January 2004

Collaborative IDEs

ACM Queue on collaborative IDEs:

From the individual developer's perspective, the IDE (integrated development environment) is where coding takes place and is the home of many different development tools. If coding is a team effort, then why not add collaborative capabilities to the IDE toolset alongside the editor, compiler, and debugger? In this article, we explore this notion of integrating collaboration into the IDE. [more]

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Social Trends 34

National Statistics' Social Trends 34 is now online. Free PDF. Press release here, some fun tidbits below:

  • Deaths related to alcohol consumption have been rising in England and Wales for many years and particularly since 1980 - the number of alcohol related deaths more than doubled from just under 2,600 to just over 5,500 in 2000.
  • In 2002 there were 30.6 million licensed vehicles in Great Britain. In 1981 there were 19.3 million, and in 1961 just under 9 million.
  • The faster reduction in male than in female mortality has diminished women's advantage in life expectancy, from 6.3 years in 1970 to 4.8 years in 2000.
  • In the 2002/03 academic year, total average expenditure for full time students in higher education in England and Wales was almost £7,000 per student. This was an increase of 28 per cent from four years earlier, and represents a 15 per cent increase after adjusting for inflation.
  • In 2001/02, 53 per cent of pupils in the United Kingdom gained five or more GCSEs (or equivalent) at grades A* to C, compared with 46 per cent in 1995/96.

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SCO is a WMD

NetCraft's update newsletters are getting snarkier. Realising that all SCO has to do to avoid the MyDoom DDOS is update their DNS records, NetCraft envisions a few scenarios. The funniest:

Solution 3: Point www.sco.com at someone you don’t like.
Consequences: SCO Executives take a poll on which web site annoys them the most. Slashdot wins. hostmaster@sco.com CNames www.sco.com to slashdot.org. SCO Execs cackle demonically at the prospect of slashdotting Slashdot.
Linux community notices DNS change propagating within five minutes. Eric Raymond calls for “restraint in the face of SCO’s continual provocation”. Undeterred, Linux community launches internet-wide round the clock hackathon, and finds six “trivially insecure” US military installations shortly after the US military go home on Friday afternoon. Spend Saturday soaking up the totally awesome graphics on the Stealth bomber flight simulators, and then obliterate most of Utah, sco.com name servers and all, on Sunday morning hours before the DDoS is due to hit Slashdot. SCO Execs still laughing themselves helpless about the /. Effect when the bomb hits.
New, previously unknown Linux Thought Leader declares that “we have met the enemy, and they are gone”. Traffic to Slashdot triples, Hemos weeps about the size of OSDN’s unsold banner inventory. Follow up posts enthuse about the quality of the stealth bomber user interface, then propose that they should sort out “the problem in Redmond” before they give the US Military their network back in time for Monday morning. New Linux Thought Leader concurs, adding that there’s a carding site in Moscow that really ticks him off, too. Armageddon. [more]

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Thursday, 29 January 2004

OS X 10.3.3 and Safari 1.2

News at Mac Rumors of these coming updates. Quick commentary:

Safari: Ability to "tab" to form elements (buttons, checkboxes, submit buttons) - about bloody time

Safari: Improved download manager with resume - ditto

Safari: Custom cursor support - I hope you can turn this off

Has anyone else noticed that Safari hasn't been updated for 10.2? And that this is exactly the kind of thing people were moaning at Microsoft for when they decided that IE would no longer be updated as a standalone product? I know it's not exactly the same thing, but still, the two positions are more alike than different.

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Wednesday, 28 January 2004

Orkut helpdesk unhelpful

After I got kicked off Orkut, I sent them an email with my username, the email address I was registered with, that I wasn't able to log in anymore and my friends reporting that my profile had completely disappeared. I got a reply from their helpdesk this morning:

Hi Dan,

Thanks for your note. We're sorry about the difficulties you're having logging in. Could you please send us the full name that is displayed in your orkut profile so we can take a look at your account?
Stay connected,

Useful, no? Did someone say backlash?

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Oh the weather outside...

... is frightful. This morning:

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Tuesday, 27 January 2004


So like most (but not all) television owners in the UK, I pay just over a hundred pounds a year as licence fee. I don't have a problem with this at all. I love the BBC. No matter that sometimes I may get a little annoyed at its news reporting, its incessant rebranding, the parroting of its properties across all the media channels it has access to, the fact that most of the programming on BBC THREE is dross, the fact that I get the Today Programme, PM, BBC7, BBC 4 and, well, pretty much all the other stuff more than makes up for it.

But buying up Google text ads? I know that the BBC advertises in/on non-BBC properties - billboards outside work are plastered with promos, the current one being the proclamation that Chris Moyles is the saviour of breakfast radio, and I don't seem to have any problem with that. But text ads? On Google? Is this what I paid my licence fee for?

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Save Ferris!

Or, rather, Save Hubble:

A grassroots campaign to save the Hubble Space Telescope, started after NASA cancelled a crucial servicing mission, is gaining momentum.
Hundreds of emails suggesting ways to keep the famous observatory running have flooded its management agency, the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) in Maryland, US. It says it will consider every idea. [more, New Scientist]

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Time travel on Mars

NASA on the problem with Spirit's flash memory:

"Then, as we were getting ready to send the next beep command, the vehicle decided to communicate with us in one of its nominal communications windows at which point we got a little bit of data that had very little information in it. In fact, originally we started to decode it and it was from the year 2053 and we thought 'this is not good!' Eventually we found out the data was corrupted, and we were all cheering at that point because there weren't a lot of scenarios that would put us in 2053 on Mars. [more]

Riiiight. I submit that there's only one scenario that puts us in 2053 on Mars - Spirit is alive and well in 2053 on Mars; the current "difficulties" are just a ham fisted attempt to cover up the fact that NASA's time travel experiments have gone horribly wrong, and it's only a matter of time before Earth is overrun by ray-gun toting aliens from the future.

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Monday, 26 January 2004

New email virus?

Looks like it might be as bad as sobig, if not worse: in the last ten minutes (22:52 to 23:02 GMT) I've had 18 copies of an email with subjects such as "test", "hi" and "Server Report" all carrying a payload of a 29KB attachment of type either zip or scr. A fiver says there's several hundred of these in my junk mail folder by the time I wake up.

Update: Ah, here we are. It's called MyDoom - CNet has more details.

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Sunday, 25 January 2004

I'm all thumbs

Most phones nowadays have soft buttons - two buttons on either side of the phone that, when pressed, do whatever the display says above them. On my Sony Ericsson T610, by default the left button is "Calls" (recently calls list) and the right button is "More" (a very lame attempt at a context sensitive menu).

The crucial thing is that they're soft buttons. Their function at any particular time is determined by the software on the phone (yes, I know the function of any button is determined by the software on the phone). The point is that the function of those two particular buttons can invariably be something different depending on what you're doing at the time.

This is all just a long winded way of saying why aren't there any phones that cater for left-handed users? It's not that I'm left-handed, but, uh, some of my best friends are left-handed, and this hasn't been the first time I've heard about this.

Hint, people who work at phone companies. It can't be that hard to add this as simple settings toggle, can it?

(If there are phones that do this, why isn't the feature more widespread? And why don't Nokia or Sony Ericsson phones do it (at least, the ones I'm familiar with)).

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Warning: SPOILERS.

No, really.

I'm serious. Stop reading if you don't want to have your experience of John Woo's latest spoiled.

Not that there's much to spoil, really.

It's more a series of nitpicks.


Then I'll begin, and in time honoured bullet fashion, too.

  • DEAR MOTHER OF GOD IF YOU'RE RELEASING A HOLLYWOOD 'BLOCKBUSTER' FILM THEN WHY THE FUCK CAN'T YOU UNDERSTAND THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN "IT'S" AND "ITS"? Did anyone else notice this? Evidently not, because it's not on the IMDB goofs page. The couple of seconds where the camera lingers on an excerpt from a newspaper and the headline is "Allcom unveils it's answer to someone or other's product?" I swear, if I find out who was responsible for that gaffe, I'll hunt them down, disembowel them (with a spoon, natch), make sure that their picture appears in every single textbook from now until eternity so that NO ONE MAKES THE SAME GODDAMN STUPID MISTAKE AGAIN. Sorry for shouting. But really, this is terribly easy to get right. "It's" only ever means "it is" and doesn't ever, ever, ever, ever convey the possessive.
  • Shoot the doves. I never want to see slow motion doves again.
  • Subway control boxes are actually made out of mini ATX motherboards, and if you pull out the DIMM/SIMM style memory modules and stick in a well-placed paperclip, you can stop a train just in time.
  • A "gravity enhanced" lens can help you see around the curvature of the universe into the future. You're not even trying, are you?
  • Minority Report's UI was cooler. I have no idea what Ben Affleck was doing when he was supposedly reverse engineering things. And what the hell was the code for some sort of virtual woman doing in a monitor? Hmmm?
  • John Woo should never direct anyone in a romantic scene.
  • What's up with the explanation in the middle of the film, when Affleck is tastefully re-arranging his items into a question mark shape? We're suddenly treated to a flashback of the last half of the film, just in case we missed it or if it was too confusing. Of course, this being Paycheck, you wouldn't have been confused at all, because the plot was about as transparent as, well, a glass sphere.

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Well, that was fun

24 hours into exploring Orkut and I'm already kicked out :)

Update: I'm not exactly sure what it is that I've done that could've violated the TOS, but from what I've managed to work out my account's been deleted: my username/password doesn't work (invalid password), and my email address isn't in the system (seeing as it won't email me my supposedly valid password). That and the people I'm friends with have reported I've been wiped out of their networks. It's like some episode of Star Trek (and, just like being out of phase and thus invisible, I still haven't fallen through the floor), or the part in Back to the Future where Marty starts to lose his hand and can't play the guitar. Then again, I can't play the guitar particularly well, either.

Update the second: That said, having had a proper leaf through Orkut's TOS, there are two things I could've been tripped up on. Illegal and unauthorised uses of Orkut include:

  • directing any user (for example, by linking) to any Materials of any third party without such third party's prior written consent; (which seems to me to be at least a little silly) and
  • submitting Materials that infringe, misappropriate or violate the intellectual property, publicity, privacy or other proprietary rights of any party (which is probably what happens when you start alumni groups for universities and colleges, upload their logos (well, Orkut did ask for an image, and everyone else was doing it) or maybe start a group that's called Vonage Users without acknowledging that it's a registered trademark).

If anything, I could've been kicked out for those two. Now, without my lawyer hat on, that kind of thing is very silly.

I'm more than a little annoyed about this, mainly because I spent a while on Saturday playing with it and now, without even an email or a warning, I get kicked off. Anyway. All the cool kids get kicked off social networks :)

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Tuesday, 20 January 2004

Single Female Lawyer

Of all the tracks to be randomly selected on the way to work today, the most amusing was the theme from Ally McBeal. Fortunately, there are many differences that separate my life from that of a fictional single female lawyer:

  • Have yet to see giant dancing baby in office;
  • Am not an attractive yet stick-thin woman;
  • Also, am not actually a lawyer. Or an attorney, never mind an attorney-at-law. The only thing I do at-law at the moment is bludgeon it in a researching and drafting type manner;
  • Have yet to earn pots of cash (but, curiously, am learning how to spend as if I'm earning pots of cash);
  • Have not yet seen talented pianist and singer perform at local pub;
  • Do not work with anyone who has dyed their hair because of a brain tumour;
  • Offices are not bright and palatial;
  • Don't have a therapist;
  • Thus have not been advised to pick a theme song; and
  • While I haven't passed the bar exam, I've passed a bar exam of sorts.

On the other hand:

  • Am quite stressed;
  • Am also quite busy; and
  • Get to walk around and pretend like I'm carrying lots of important pieces of paper.

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Monday, 19 January 2004

And another thing...

NTL's digital cable platform sucks. At first I thought it was cool that I had a bit of paper telling me my cable box's MAC and IP address. But then when I actually started watching TV, I saw compression artifacts everywhere: this is not high bit-rate MPEG, this is a terrible blocky mess that has severe problems with fast-moving complex scenes. Sky Digital's offering is much better seeing as I actually have to make some effort to find encoding artifacts on that platform. It's not just the video, though - since getting a surround sound setup, I've also noticed that audio is being encoded at a similarly bad rate - high frequencies aren't being well defined at all.

I'm very much not impressed.

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Saturday, 17 January 2004

Land of the Free

Tolerant melting pot? Bless.

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Thursday, 15 January 2004

Yup, still Thursday

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It must be Thursday

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Wednesday, 14 January 2004

I'm Chandler Bing...

... and this is the longest sitcom of my life. BBC News - Friends finale filmed in secret (thank god it's finally dying):

The audience for the final episode of hit US comedy Friends will be kept from certain scenes of the last show in an effort to keep the ending secret. [more]

My vote's on Rachel finally being apprehended as the mole, managing to break free after being taken back to Monica and Chandler's apartment and stabbing Monica in the stomach. Chandler, of course, won't be able to live with himself.

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I'd wipe away all of your tears

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Far too early - Wednesday Morning Links

  • Gruber on the HP/Apple deal
  • Kodak to stop selling traditional film cameras in the US (Kodak sold traditional film cameras?)
  • Rumour has it that the Bush Moon/Mars announcement will be today
  • Children and the internet: says it better than I did
  • Never mind other Apple software being ported, maybe QuickTime for Windows will get better
  • Paper: storytelling among youth on the internet

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Tuesday, 13 January 2004

Smart Address Book

Sat in Borders the other day with Rowan (he of Romeo fame) and we came up with the idea of a smart address book - it's all very well that iTunes has (and iPhoto will have) smart playlist support, but Address Book is sorely lacking in this department. Case in point: I have a group defined for people I went to college with, but I have to update it manually (not that it updates that often). It doesn't matter that I've got in the notes field that they attended the same college as me. End result: I'm going to try making an Address Book with support for smart groups.

I don't know any Objective C--my last project used the Cocoa AppKit Java bridge--and I'm looking to learn. A cursory look at Apple's Address Book Cocoa framework leads me to believe that implementing smart groups can't be that hard at all, especially when there's a tutorial for returning searches.

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Return of the Crowning

Via Sore Eyes - this is what Return of the King was really about:

Seriously, check it out. You got your Frodo and your Sam, trudging to the Crack of Doom, right? And that's about as apt a description for pregnancy as you're likely to find: nine months of trudging to Mordor. (Fun fact: "trudging to Mordor" was euphemism they used on I Love Lucy before they could say "pregnant" on the air!) [more]

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Monday, 12 January 2004

SPOT Arrives

I've written about Microsoft SPOT (Smart Personal Object Technology) before. Now it's here and you can buy MSN Direct (SPOT's rebranded name) devices straight from Amazon.com. My opinion still stands. Besides, with all-you-can-eat GPRS from wireless providers like T-Mobile, what's the point when you already carry a cellphone?

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Return of the Bulleted List

Because I'm on the cutting edge of culture (for values of 'culture' equal to roughly one third of a Peter Jackson trilogy), I only just got around to seeing Return of the King this past weekend. Part of this has something to do with my pathological fear of going to see movies on my own. Years of being ridiculed by friends of mine who are comfortable in their "one adult single, please" nature had finally worn off and I ended up seeing RotK at the Cambridge Arts Picture House on Saturday.

Anyway. In time honoured fashion, bullet-pointed observations:

  • Gollum lost at least sixty pounds when he went on the One Ring diet plan
  • Whichever was the one out of Pippin or Merry who looked in that glass ball thing? Stupid. Stupid, stupid, stupid.
  • The beacon scene rocked. I hope in the extended edition it's at least five minutes longer.
  • Faramir's ride to death juxtaposed with Denethor's bad eating habits was unsettling. I resent Jackson for that.
  • I don't care. Legolas and Gimli's score-keeping is funny.
  • I really didn't expect Legolas to kill that elephant type thing. It really didn't seem in character at all. I mean, it was cool, but it just jarred a little. Living thing and all that, co-opted by forces of evil. I thought he'd just incapacitate it.
  • I've seen Pirates of the Carribean already.
  • As was pointed out by a colleague at work: there were too many ghosts. It looked like Ghostbusters 3 where Minas Tirith was covered in ecto-plasm. I half expected a Statute of Liberty to crest the hill.
  • Legolas: exposition boy? I wasn't the only one to laugh when he exclaimed "A diversion!"
  • It was nice to see Sam kick ass. It was nice to see Pippin/Merry (oh, I don't know. They're hobbits and thus interchangeable) grow up a little.
  • Did anyone else do a double take when Sam turned up in a powerloader to fight the Queen and screamed "Get away from her, you BITCH!"?
  • I'm much less bothered now that Sauron looked more like a flaming eye in this installment and not, as in the first film, flaming labia.
  • I realise that against the background of the second world war Sam and Frodo's relationship is altogether more poignant. But it doesn't stop me from being convinced that Sam's living a lie.
  • Never mind Sam living a lie, I was a little disturbed by the fact that he seems to have married a mute.

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A common problem

Someone else with a mutant enzyme problem.

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Burn the witch

Today's Channel 4 Snowmail covered in part child porn:

"The imminent boom in 3G mobile phones will allow paedophiles to access child porn on pay-as-you-go phones with impunity, according to the National Children's Home charity. We are on the case and exploring why. We'll be asking whether jailing directors in carrier companies found pedalling this filth might bring them to try to control it."

I realise that this is a tired form of criticism, but a few observations:

1. Child porn is evil and bad (not disputed in any way at all).
2. Telephones let paedophiles order porn using credit cards.
3. Actually, credit cards let paedophiles order porn.
4. Cameras let paedophiles take pictures.
5. In fact, sometimes porn is printed on paper.

In related news: Gutenberg's bones were dug up today and ceremonially hung when it was discovered that his invention of the printing press enabled paedophiles to be billed for the porn they ordered.

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Saturday, 10 January 2004


On the way back from work, looking out of the window: noticing--or rather not noticing--exactly what was going on that let me see the things I was seeing. Not paying attention, but still all that preprocessing going on. All the edge detection; the white balancing; assumptions about shading, orientation of objects. Not paying attention to any of the cars or the people and realising that all this was still going on effortlessly.

Then, in a bigger shock: seeing a reflection of the moon in the window; realising that that instant a photon had finished its journey that started with its birth in the sun, zapped through roughly a hundred and fifty billion kilometers of more-or-less empty space, bounced off the moon at precisely the right angle to end up negotiating countless air molecules, passing planes, buildings, trees to go through a window and then bounce off another, through the lens of my glasses, wiggled its way through my eyeball and struck my retina. Then realising that was happening all the time.

Then, even more annoyingly, properly realising for the first time the absolutely stupendous journey that light from, say, Delta Pavonis had taken should I have been looking at it.

I don't need a god. This is more than enough.

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Friday, 09 January 2004

To Re-election and Beyond

BBC News on Bush's anticipated announcement:

President George W Bush will announce proposals next week to send Americans to Mars, and back to the moon, senior US officials say.
He is also expected to reveal plans for a permanent lunar space station. [more, BBC News]

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Thursday, 08 January 2004


Apple's new partnership: licensing the iPod and iTunes? I wonder who's paying whom.

LAS VEGAS, Consumer Electronics Show, January 8, 2004—Working to provide consumers with the most compelling digital content whenever and wherever they desire, HP and Apple® today announced a strategic alliance to deliver an HP-branded digital music player based on Apple’s iPod™, the number one digital music player in the world, and Apple’s award-winning iTunes digital music jukebox and pioneering online music store to HP's customers. [more, apple.com]

Also, at hp.com:

Working to provide consumers with the most compelling digital content whenever and wherever they desire, HP (NYSE:HPQ) and Apple (Nasdaq:AAPL) today announced a strategic alliance to deliver an HP-branded digital music player based on Apple's iPod, the No. 1 digital music player in the world, and Apple's award-winning iTunes digital music jukebox and pioneering online music store to HP's customers. [more, hp.com]


HP is partnering with Apple Computer to provide an exceptional digital music experience to consumers as part of its larger digital entertainment system offering. Starting this spring, HP will deliver an HP-branded digital music player based on Apple's iPod, the No. 1 digital music player in the world, and Apple's award-winning iTunes digital music jukebox and pioneering online store to HP's customers. As part of the alliance, HP consumer PCs and notebooks will come preinstalled with Apple's iTunes jukebox software and an easy-reference desktop icon to point customers directly to the iTunes Music Store, ensuring a simple, seamless music experience (see separate news release issued today). [more, hp.com]

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Signs from God

Has anyone else been getting this really bizarre spam? I've had about fifteen copies today already.

Message (Botschaft) Signs from God. The Messiah comes. We have the end of the World Signs from God. The Messiah comes. We have the end of the World and already 3th World war. The Mankind faces the Doom and as well the biggest ever experienced Holocaust. Each second Humanbeing ends up in the Pond of Fire. If the Messiah is not coming now (Jesus Christ, Son of God, King of the Jews), God will come as Devil-and Germany brought the entire Mankind into Hell. Owing to the Brandenburger Nazigate in Berlin every Human will be punished as hard as Adolf Hitler. That means Hell forever:Final Solution (Endloesung) 
Everyone who doesn't call Mankind into Paradise has got at least the same much Guilt and Dirt at putting like Adolf Hitler an will be punished just as hard. The USA was sworn in to the Bible and is liable with the Final Solution (Endloesung) Death on the Cross forever- 
The one who supports Wholesole murderers and Traitors- like especially the USA and other Countries did towards Germany-will be executed as Wholesale murderers and Traitors and sent to the Pond of Fire. Laughing Third Persons are even hardest punished by God Since the USA bombed the Cradle of Mankind (The Gulf-War USA and Irak),is the entire Mankind condemned to Hell.When God`s Children are getting bombed,pays the Mankind with the Eternal Penalty. That includes also the USA. The Iraq is the Cradle of Mankind, Tigris Euphrat the Beginning of the Bible. Adam and Eve. The one who`s the Worldpower Number 1- as it happens to the USA-has got the Main Responsibility for the whole Mankind and is liable now even with the Final Solution. Death at the Cross- Hell forever. 
If the USA belief that they could make War on their own account- then they have to count with the eternal Punishment. The USA bombed once before the Cradle of Mankind (1991 Irak) and is already condemned to Hell. But for to make a War needs the USA the Permission of God himself. Which will never be granted. 
The Brandenburger Nazigate in Berlin is the Hellgate of Mankind and must be pulled down immediately Germany turned with the Brandenburger Nazigate Got to Devil-Germany is therefore Nation of Kain and High Treason and brought the entire Mankind into Doom. 
Germany has got the Worldpower to bring the entire Mankind into Hell if the Brandenburger Nazigate in Berlin is not pulled down immediately and if there will not be atoned for the second Worldwar. The USA must be careful that they don't come into Hell completely in because the reunion of Nazi-Germany. Who Protects Wholesale murderers and High Traitors like the USA did for Decades, will be executed as Wholesale murderer and as one guilty of High Treason and ends up in the Pond of Fire. The USA raised Nazi-Germany and is liable now for the reunited Nazi-Germany. Germany made an Oath to God and the Leader of the Nazis. That means everything what Germany does falls back to God-Germany caused with that its own Sentence. Which is Death on the Cross and Hell forever. That is now reputed even for entire Mankind. If it would be up to Germany the Mankind would be in Hell already and lost forever. Hence The Mankind must be called now into Paradise. Before a War even takes Place. Anything else means Wholesale murder and High Treason. The condemnation for that is Hell forever. 
The USA have got now the Main responsibility for the entire Mankind, and with it also for Germany. The one with the biggest Power must also account for it to God. So the USA is liable for the Final Solution Death on the Cross Hell forever.Jesus Christ is a Diamond,is our Redeemer-can release us from the Guilt and save entire Mankind from Downfall. http://home.t-online.de/home/520017418617/111.htm. The Blind ones lead the Blind ones and all of you will fall into the Black Hole, into the eternal Fire. Final Solution (Endloesung) The Earth is not ruled by God,but by Satan who wants to see the entire Mankind in Hell. (See Picture) 
THIS EMAIL IS NOT SPAM Sign from God is the last Key to Paradise and has to be spread Worldwide,becouse Mankind faces the last Judgement and is threatened to leave the Earth.Sign from God is the Salvation. 
Everyone who doesn't call Mankind into Paradise has got at least the same much Guilt and Dirt at putting like Adolf Hitler an will be punished just as hard. That means Hell forever:Final Solution (Endloesung) 
The ones who won`t spread Signs from God,or even destroy it,will be punished for thatwith the Final Solution.The Verdict of the last Judgement.Death on the Cross-Hell forever-Final Solution. 
Signed The Apostle Abraham cradle of mankind zion@mysc.de

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Beagle2 Found

On blogspot. Via Sore Eyes.

Phone home? Haha that's a good title - isn't it. I think it's from some film, can't remember really. So here I am stuck on Mars trying to call home using about the same power as a mobile-phone. Hmm..... Now THEY told me - "no problem Beagle" - "there's this spacecraft flying round the planet that will act as a relay AND we have these massive radio telescopes that pick up signals far weaker than yours". Yeah right. I mean you can't even get a decent connection on your mobile in the center of Darmstadt - so how do THEY think it's going to work up here? Bummer. I should have thought of that before they sent me up here. Right? Sorry, am I boring you? I don't really have anything better to do you see. [more]

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Wednesday, 07 January 2004


onePod. (Inspired by this).

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Tuesday, 06 January 2004

Jeff Raskin on magical abstraction

Via the ACM Queue: People don't understand computers, so anthropomorphise and invoke magic:

When we don't understand a process, we fall into magical thinking about results.
We live in a technological age. Even most individuals on this planet who do not have TV or cellular telephones know about such gadgets of technology. They are artifacts made by us and for us. You'd think, therefore, that it would be part of our common heritage to understand them. Their insides are open to inspection, their designers generally understand the principles behind them, and it is possible to communicate this knowledge—even though the "theory of operation" sections of manuals, once prevalent, seem no longer to be included. Perhaps that's not surprising considering that manuals themselves are disappearing, leaving behind glowing Help screens that too often are just reference material for the cognoscenti rather than guides for the perplexed. [more]

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Monday, 05 January 2004

BBC release MP3 CDs

Every so often, the BBC does something that really impresses me. Via chaff, news that the BBC is offering MP3 CDs of some of their dramas.

BBC's press release (from April 3rd 2003!) here, with six titles offered initially.

Google results here.

(Then again, every so often, the BBC does something that doesn't impress me at all. Like its recent rebranding of BBC News 24.)

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Friday, 02 January 2004

Five Things

Five things that will still annoy me in 2004:

  • People who seem to think that word's that end in 's' automatically (and correctly) acquire an apostrophe and/or (and let's face it, it's probably and) live in blissful ignorance of the differences between it's and its.
  • Spam.
  • Waiting for public transport, especially when said public transport is advertised as a quick and convenient method for travelling through town using a picture of a businessman looking at his watch. While presumably waiting for his bus to arrive.
  • The fact that my mortgage consistently fails to be completely paid off for some inexplicable yet unrectifiable reason each morning.
  • The perpetual game played by Royal Mail delivering parcels to my flat and me not being there.
  • Young people. They have no respect, you see.

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Thursday, 01 January 2004


Horizontal scrolling: Tofu hits v1.0.

Tofu is an experimental text reader. It addresses the problem that many people don't like reading text on-screen. It arranges text in columns, which allows fast text reading. More importantly, it completely avoids vertical scrolling. You scroll from column to column horizontally, which makes the text feel more stable and easier to keep track of.

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Omniweb 5

New Omniweb 5 features:

  • Tabs (thumbnails in a tab drawer) - not exactly sure how useful they'll be, but cool nonetheless.
  • Workspaces - finally, browsers save state on close!
  • Site preferences - probably not going to be that useful
  • Search shortcuts - not a big deal
  • Page marking - snapback by another name, not that I ever used that feature anyway

Every browser should save state on quit.

Update: ThinkSecret has more screenshots.

Oh, and Happy New Year.

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