Friday, December 21, 2001

One more way to classify everything, this is how the U.S. gov't. does it. I'm amazed at the level of distinction in category 11.

Friday, December 14, 2001

One of the downsides of the demise of dotcom craziness is that there's no 2001 installment to follow Elf Bowling (1999) and Elf Bowling II (2000) -- windoze only... sorry.

Wednesday, December 12, 2001

Here's a jaw-droppingly cool site... WhatTheFont identifies fonts from images with impressive accuracy. Try http://images.slashdot.org/title.gif. The rest of the site has more information and examples than a font geek could ever want.
Use one of these proxy servers to liven up your web browsing.

Wednesday, November 28, 2001

For those times when CPAN is too esoteric, turn to perldoc.com for basic perl documentation, formatted nicely for your web browser. The front page also has a bunch of links to other perl sites.

Tuesday, November 20, 2001

Monday, November 19, 2001

Note to self: don't share an office with people who speak Russian. I currently share an office with a Russian and an Armenian and I've learned that the Russian word for "so" sounds an awful lot like "Doug". I turn to answer an unasked question at least once per day.

Friday, November 16, 2001

Yippee. A comment I posted to slashdot was modded up to 4 and deemed "Funny". I think the trick was (a) replying to an already highly moderated comment, and (b) picking on the editors of slashdot.

Wednesday, November 14, 2001

When automation goes bad, Chapter XVII - Wherein amazon.com's listing for a recent edition of Much Ado About Nothing includes this review:
Much Ado About Nothing is probably the most satisfying, and certainly the liveliest and most charming, of Kenneth Branagh's Shakespeare films. The witty badinage between Branagh and his then-wife Emma Thompson, as Benedick and Beatrice, is as bright and sunny as the golden sunlight that shines on the Tuscan villa where the picture was shot. ...--This text refers to the DVD edition.

Friday, November 09, 2001

I enjoyed reading this interview with Lisp guy Kent Pitman. He argues nicely that the complaint that some people have about lisp being too large is misguided:
"Why not make the language smaller so it requires less work to implement?" is a query you hear a lot from the outside, and even from members of the Scheme community. The answer from the Common Lisp community amounts to this: Programs are written all the time, but implementations are written much more rarely. What the implementation does not do is left for the user. The more hard work the language does, the less hard work programs do. In effect, the thesis of Common Lisp is that bigger languages make for smaller sentences in the language. (To see that there is at least some intuitive basis for this, think about how long a novel like Gone With the Wind is in English, then try to imagine whether the same novel re-expressed in Esperanto would be longer or shorter.)

If a language offers only what a programmer could implement overnight, it gives its programmers not much of a leg up on their final application. Many members of the Scheme community boast that they have written a Scheme implementation, while many Common Lisp programmers have not.

I also liked the question from slashdot reader kfogel which begins:
For myself and a number of friends, Lisp/Scheme programming has for too long been a kind of mystical Eden, fading in our memories, from which we have been mostly banished in our professional lives. But we can still recall how it felt to work in a language able to shape itself to any pattern our minds might ask: coding was more interesting and more expressive, and the rate of increasing returns over time was tremendous, because fine-grained -- almost continuous -- abstraction was in the nature of the language. Life was just more fun, frankly.
Pitman liked that, too. His reply begins:
First, let me say that I really appreciate the poetic description you offer in the first paragraph above. I very much think that captures how I and others think about the experience of using Lisp.
This was only part one of the interview. I look forward to reading the rest soon.

Friday, November 02, 2001

Is it true that the Beatles really sang "She's got a chicken on rye, and she don't care"? Misheard song lyrics at aimiright.com. Oddly enough, Nirvana is third on the list of artists with the most submitted mis-heard lyrics. This isn't odd because Cobain's singing is lucid. It's odd because I'm amazed that anybody could tell what the real lyrics are.

Another collection of misheard lyrics is at kissthisguy.com. I got a good chuckle from this one. (quack)

Tuesday, October 30, 2001

Since Bork will have some free time on his hands soon, maybe he'll want to try something new with his balloons.
Hey, I'm going to be 300,000 hours old on June 10, 2002. Useless calculations done here.

Thursday, October 25, 2001

For a while, I've been using google.com's Swedish Chef language setting. What I didn't realize is that they also offer language settings for Pig Latin, 3733t h4x0rs and, my new personal setting, Elmer Fudd. "I'm Feewing Wucky"

Monday, October 22, 2001

Ack! Who knew? Please take the time to learn the facts about dihydrogen monoxide, an underreported substance that is used in nuclear power plants and animal research laboratories can be found in many household items, despite being a major component in acid rain.

The truly scary bit is this:

Research conducted by award-winning U.S. scientist Nathan Zohner concluded that roughly 86 percent of the population supports a ban on dihydrogen monoxide. Although his results are preliminary, Zohner believes people need to pay closer attention to the information presented to them regarding Dihydrogen Monoxide. He adds that if more people knew the truth about DHMO then studies like the one he conducted would not be necessary.

Thursday, October 18, 2001

Investment advice. Read and weep. Then drink heavily.
From a project description at elance.com (emphasis added):
Description: OBJECTIVES
Create a new database with front-end interface and reports

DESCRIPTION
Any case

DATABASE PLATFORM
FoxPro

OPERATING SYSTEM
Windows 98

PROGRAMMING LANGUAGES
Not sure - developer should suggest

DATABASE SIZE
I'm not sure

NUMBER OF FRONT END SCREENS
I'm not sure

NUMBER OF REPORTS
I'm not sure

TECHNICAL SUPPORT REQUIREMENT
2 weeks

CLIENT DATABASE EXPERIENCE LEVEL
I am experienced and know exactly what I need

Tuesday, October 16, 2001

Live in complete security, buy a decommissioned missile base. Comes with multi-head shower, hot tub, and ICBM silo.

Friday, October 12, 2001

Silly little web log with a unique focus: Who Would Buy That? (auction oddities from all over the web)
Nice reference site for finding radio stations: radio-locator.com. It's searchable by a bunch of different criteria, e.g. location, format, streaming audio available.

Tuesday, October 09, 2001

Citizens of the UK can designate "Jedi Knight" as their religion, see the story which has a link to a pdf version of the census form (see page 18). Another interesting bit about this form is that "Roman Catholic" is at the top of the list with code 001, while "Church of England" is much further down the list and in its alphabetically ordered place.
from memepool, A Spammer's Luck Runs Out When She Forges The Wrong Domain... a brief story of how a network geek got revenge on spammer, along with ICQ logs, addresses, phone numbers, DNS records, and more information about the spammers.
Want to read what the Pakistanis think of the US campaign in Afghanistan? Look at this possible new addition to a list of definitive reference sites: thepaperboy.com which contains searchable links to "5288 Newspapers From 176 Countries". (The list of links is searchable, not the content of all 5288 sites... wouldn't that be cool?)
Looking for a windoze equivalent of xdiskusage, I found spacemonger. These utilities show a graphical representation of the contents of your hard drive with proportionally sized boxes for directories and files. Oh, get spacemonger now. Its current release is the last freeware version. It's going shareware sometime soon.
From Wired news, Afghanistan, on 50 Websites a Day.

Friday, October 05, 2001

It didn't take too long for Google to find the home page for The Apostrophe Protection Society. I always knew that misuse of apostrophes was something that irked me, but I never thought I would feel such delight in finding such a definitive and pedantic site. Be sure to look at the photo of the chairman shown with his biography. He looks like a fuddy-duddy Englishman.
Yea! It's October... that means that the new Ig Nobel Prize Winners have been announced. From the brief descriptions I've read, my favorite is the winner for Literature, "John Richards of Boston, England, founder of The Apostrophe Protection Society, for his efforts to protect, promote, and defend the differences between plural and possessive." On the internet he has his work cut out for him.

Thursday, October 04, 2001

Marney Update... She gained over 3 lbs. this month! At her 5 month check up last week she weighed 14 lbs. 10 oz.! New photos in the "Marney Sep 2001" gallery at our yahoo photo site.

Wednesday, October 03, 2001

Something that I'm saving for future reference: a list of the top twenty internet security vulnerabilities. Is it for my future use as a sysadmin or as a nefarious ne'er-do-well?

Thursday, September 27, 2001

Over at The Onion, they've somehow managed to write funny, yet not-too-offensive, stories about recent events. Snippets:

From American Life Turns Into Bad Jerry Bruckheimer Movie:

"I always thought terrorists blowing shit up would be cool," Martin continued. "Like, if the Pentagon was bombed, I figured they'd mobilize a special elite squadron of secret-agent ninjas, and half of them would be hot babes. How could I ever think that? This is actually happening, and it's just not cool at all."
From God Angrily Clarifies 'Don't Kill' Rule
"I don't care how holy somebody claims to be," God said. "If a person tells you it's My will that they kill someone, they're wrong. Got it? I don't care what religion you are, or who you think your enemy is, here it is one more time: No killing, in My name or anyone else's, ever again."
There are lots of sick hoaxes related to the WTC disaster out there. I just received email of a photo that purportedly shows a tourist on top of the WTC with the first airplane about to hit right behind him. It's a fake, dammit! See more at this page at snopes.com. For information about other WTC hoaxes, see pages at snopes.com or csicop.org.

Wednesday, September 26, 2001

From htmlhelp.com, an article about misuse of the alt attribute in img tags. Included are some egregious examples of what not to do.
15-yard Penalty for Unnecessary Use of PDF: There's a mailing list that a very dedicated member of my neighborhood sends out every week or so. It contains information about crime, recommendations for plumbers, electricians, etc., news about our schools and more. However, unlike most modern email mailing lists, the moderator is doing this completely by hand -- subscription management, distribution, and archiving. This is silly when free resources like Yahoo groups are freely available which do all that and searchable archives, too. But, now the most pointless "feature" of this list is that the archives are available in PDF format. Take a look at a recent edition. Does this gain anything from conversion to PDF?

I'll stop ranting now. The content still more than makes up for the list's technical quirkiness.

Tuesday, September 25, 2001

Everytime I see somebody wearing a red, white and blue ribbon, I can't help but think of Tony Orlando and Dawn. This has been driving me crazy. The way I remember the origin of the ribbons was the Yellow Ribbons during the Iranian hostage crisis of 1979-81 and that was all from Tony Orlando and Dawn's song "Tie a Yellow Ribbon".

A little research turned up this article from therepublic.com about ribbons. It mentions the Tony Orlando theory but says that "news stories credit Penelope Laingen, wife of Iranian hostage L. Bruce Laingen, with starting the yellow ribbon-tying craze at her Maryland home." That doesn't seem to refute the theory since Ms. Laingen may have been inspired by the Mr. Orlando and the Misses Dawn. The article also cites a woman who did ribbon research: "Virtually every culture and society, Wolos said, has used ribbons in a show of allegiance or support, from black mourning bands and wreaths with bows used at funerals, to red, white and blue bunting in the French Revolution, to red ribbons worn in the 1970s to bring attention to POW-MIA issues."

Very interesting, but I'm still sticking to the Tony Orlando theory for the lapel ribbons.

Monday, September 17, 2001

Pure, unmitigated silliness
When I first saw google's report on Sept. 11 searches, my first thought was "Why would people need to ask google for CNN's web address?" But I think a better explanation is that they tried cnn.com and couldn't get through... next step? "Gee, I must not know CNN's address, I'll ask a search engine."
Bartleby has a daily mailing now. FDR provided the quotation of the day over the weekend: "More than an end to war, we want an end to the beginnings of all wars."

Friday, September 14, 2001

I'm still living in a 56k world at home. However here in my office, I've got a screaming fast internet connection and a machine with a CD burner. Seems like a relatively painless way to upgrade to newer versions of bloatware such as Internet Explorer. Naturally, Microsoft has found a way to make the easy difficult.

When you download IE, you get just a small executable which relies on an internet connection to pull down the rest of the package. If I weren't using Microsoft's flagship OS, Windows 2000, the installer would give me an option to download only. But, the readme file advises users of Win2k to read this article so that you can run the installer with extra args like this:

"C:\Windows Update Setup Files\ie5setup.exe" /c:"ie5wzd.exe /d /s:""#E"

Thursday, September 13, 2001

Seen on goodexperience.com, "A Brief History of @".
In the slashdot discussion of the "Good Easy" article mentioned previously, a reader pointed me to HTML Tidy utility to clean up HTML. This is of particular interest to me since I'm currently working with some HTML that originated from MS Front Page and sometimes modified by other users using MS Studio.
Being a unix weenie, I appreciated this article at wired.com describing a way to configure and use a mac or windows box for maximum efficiency by minimizing the bloat created by MS Office and its ilk. The author points to the GoodEasy environment specifically for MacOS.

Also of note in this article is the author's reference to "The Paradox of the Active User":

In this study of how non-technical people use computers, they observed that people don't read manuals. And once they figure out how to achieve something, they will not change their protocol even if doing things a different way is quicker.
I haven't yet read this study. It's rather lengthy; probably subway reading for another day.
Over at borklog is a link to an Canadian editorial from 1973 which praises the US for our foreign aid and encourages other countries to support the US in return. 18 years old and yet still relevant. Yet, even in this time of distress in the US, the Federal Reserve is "making $50 billion available to stabilize European banking systems".

Wednesday, September 12, 2001

What to say that hasn't already been said?

Karen's family lives in NYC and they're all safe. We had trouble reaching them by phone, but we were able to communicate via AIM. I guess that's something else useful that AOL has given me. According to this article at internetnews.com, we weren't the only ones to use instant messaging

Somebody wrote into slashdot saying that "The [internet] backbone is, according to [network watchers], at about 80% utilization -- they've never seen it above 40% before."

Monday, September 10, 2001

I received a free copy of AOL 6 this weekend. What makes this exciting is that it was sent in a nice little tin which can be used for safely transporting cds around. This is the first time that AOL has given me something useful since they stopped sending out (erasable) floppy disks.

Friday, September 07, 2001

The people who did the wireless network sniffing in the article below used software called netstumbler. What's even more cool is that their software can export sites found and their website collects reports from users. Currently it seems only to have a non-searchable list of access points found and a big map of the U.S. with little dots where points were found.
Seen on slashdot, Exploiting and Protecting 802.11b Wireless Networks, in which crafty techies drive around NYC, NJ, New England and Silicon Valley and discover many, many unsecured wireless networks. If they drive past my house, they'll discover another one. Yes, this is an invitation to anybody who wants to steal free bandwidth from me. Come on over and use your high-tech wireless card to surf on my 56k dial-up connection. Feel free to browse my computers. The most interesting thing you'll find is the originals of the photos seen here.

Monday, September 03, 2001

The latest Style Invitational in the Washington Post asked readers "to supply items for an underachiever's midlife list of goals." Such as...
  • Memorize the capitals of all the letters.
  • Prevent the resurgence of the Whig party.
  • Run behind the bulls at Pamplona.
  • Invent a better placebo.
  • Climb to the top of the Vietnam Memorial.
  • Teach an illiterate child to do the Macarena.

Friday, August 31, 2001

Even more pointless than the Confluences project is the I Can Eat Glass Project, which strives to "compile a list of ways to say the phrase 'I can eat glass, it doesn't hurt me' in various languages."

Thursday, August 30, 2001

Marney gained a cousin early this morning. My brother and his wife welcome Lucia Claire. She weighs 7 lbs. 12 oz and is 20" long.

Tuesday, August 28, 2001

Marney Update She's four months old today. I've just put new photos in the "Marney Visits Relatives" album at her gallery at photos.yahoo.com. At her four month check up yesterday, she measured 11 lbs. 9 oz. (15th percentile) and 23.5 inches long (25th percentile). She also got four shots ouch. She sleeps through the night almost every night, she has discovered the joys of playing with her hands and feet (although she isn't chewing on her toes yet), she gives us the occasional giggle, she rolls over, and she can push her head way up when placed on her belly. It's truly amazing how much they learn and grow in just a few months.
I dream of a country with a "parasitic grid" of wireless networks using Pringles can antennae. I could share my access point with my neighbors if they chipped in on the bandwidth costs (finally, an excuse to jump to DSL). This would probably need a firewall/proxy solution that would authenticate users... results of a web search for this to follow soon.

Monday, August 27, 2001

I've been dwelling on the game of Diplomacy lately. It started when Borklog had a link to a speech delivered to a video game convention titled "Don't Be a Vidiot". The speaker complained that video game creators should try to avoid building yet another shoot-em-up game and take inspiration from the breadth of games that have been around for centuries before the invention of computers. He then proceeded to give some examples, including Diplomacy.

Set in pre-WWI Europe, each player controls the armies and navies of one of the seven great powers at the time. After a short period of negotiation or conferences, each move consists of all players writing "orders" for each of their units. All moves are implemented simultaneously and you discover which of your allies kept their word and which ones are lying, back-stabbing, blood suckers.

I remember my friends playing in high school. I never played, though. My recollection is that there was already a group of seven who knew how to play and they didn't want to wait for me to get up to speed. Or maybe they just didn't want me to join their reindeer games, but this is not the place to reanalyze high school issues...

It doesn't take long to discover the central gathering place on the 'net for a game which is a geek magnet like Diplomacy. The Diplomatic Pouch has all the answers and links that any player or wanna-be could need. I learned that:

Anybody want to play?

Friday, August 24, 2001

From the Washington Post's "TELL ME ABOUT IT: Advice for the Under-30 Crowd", a column that usually reminds me why I'm glad that I'm no longer under 30 or single, and occasionally contains choice bits like
You don't have to hang out with anyone you don't want to hang out with, not until you acquire co-workers, in-laws or prison time.
...even though I actually like my in-laws and co-workers.
Every now and then, corporate America does something sensible, like a company called Venator (who?) dumping that stupid name and switching to the dull, but meaningful, Foot Locker Inc (ah, yes, I know that company).

Wednesday, August 22, 2001

At Yahoo! Radio you can listen to scanner signals including NYPD communications and Dallas-Forth Worth airport traffic control.

Tuesday, August 21, 2001

From America's Finest News Source, an interview with Berke Breathed, creator of Bloom County and Outland. My favorite line is "And I'd be a Libertarian, if they weren't all a bunch of tax-dodging professional whiners."

Monday, August 20, 2001

One more GPS page... the Post article pointed me at the Degree Confluence Project. This is a truly inspired project whose stated goal "to visit each of the latitude and longitude integer degree intersections in the world, and to take pictures at each location." Why do you want to visit an imaginary intersection? Because it's there.
Today's Washington Post has an article about consumer use of GPS. Given the research that the author did it's pretty clear that he didn't write the headline which refers to "Ah, N4851.616 E00217.450 in the Summer!".

I'm not sure how one would calculate 4851 degrees north of the equator... let's see, that'd be 13 times around the earth then almost half way around again, ending up around 8 degrees north of the equator from where you started. Now, 217 degrees east of Greenwich is the same as 143 degrees west of Greenwich. But, since the latitude calculation put us past the North Pole and down the other side, we're really at 37 degrees east longitude, right?

At this point, calculating the exact minutes and seconds is left to the reader, currently stranded somewhere in Ethiopia.

Friday, August 17, 2001

If I had more time to play golf and if I were good enough for exact yardage measurements to matter and absolutely couldn't find a better use for the money, I might spend $400 on a Sky Golf GPS receiver for my Handspring Visor. Of course, it isn't permitted by the USGA's rules.

Wednesday, August 15, 2001

The latest newsletter from Scott Adams and Dogbert's New Ruling Class contains the memorable quote "I'm worried that Cheney is already a cyborg. Without the hardware, he'd be a blind, starving, bald guy with no pulse."
Another year, another flood... We had a massive rainstorm in DC on Saturday. I was considering braving the rain to go to the video store when I noticed that our street had turned into a river. At this point, we thought I should check the basement. In a half dozen previous storms , I had checked it with out even seeing a drop of water in the laundry room. Not this time.

Go through a door in our laundry room and you're outside, at the bottom of a short flight of stairs. Also at the bottom of these stairs is a drain. The drain got clogged, the water went under the door into the laundry room. The water probably found the drain in the floor of this laundry room and headed that way, until it, too, got clogged. With no way to enter the sewer pipes, the water started looking for other places to go. The easiest route, it seems, is into the main (finished, carpeted) area of the basement. Ugh.

The water seeped easily through the carpet, spreading about 10 feet from the laundry room doorway. Once it found its way to the uncarpeted floors of the bathroom and furnace room, it spread more quickly.

The Great Flood of 2000 was caused by a leaky washing machine hose and compounded by lots of stuff sitting on the floor and exacerbated by our being out of town for five days. We'd (mostly) learned our lessons from that flood, so property damage from this flood is negligible. ServiceMaster came on Monday and lifted the carpeting, removed the pad, and left a bunch of floor fans blowing from the underside of the carpet. They'll return in about a week to put down new padding and wash the carpet. Then we can set up the basement again and prepare for the next flood.

Monday, August 13, 2001

Along with most of my coworkers, I'm on AIM (AOL Instant Messenger) all day. There are some companies now expanding the AIM service with intelligent agents. The first I heard about was IMfuse (send AIM to "imfusecorp"), run by some friends of mine. Bork pointed me at SmarterChild from ActiveBuddy (AIM "SmarterChild"). SmarterChild will answer questions like "What is the forecast for Paris, France?" or "When is Apocalypse Now playing?" or "define callipygian" (Bork suggested that word).

Thursday, August 09, 2001

Wednesday, August 08, 2001

Ah, the Herman Miller Aeron chair... Bork hates 'em, I love 'em, they're a classic symbol of the dot-com era. But are they, as this article at salon.com suggests, "stupidity barometers" - an easy way to tell if a dot com is headed for doom? The readers at slashdot naturally voice their opinions. My favorite comment quotes a letter to the editor, "Compared to the ridiculous business models of many of these companies, the decision to order Aeron chairs looks like the Marshall Plan."

Tuesday, August 07, 2001

You've seen the trailers for the coming attractions... Over-hyped? Dark horse? Care to bet on your opinion?
My secret life as a dog sled musher.
Marney Update We heard her first giggles on Sunday and she laughed at for Karen's boss yesterday. She slept from 9:30 pm - 5:30 am last night! I woke at 5:00 wondering if I had been sleeping so deeply that I didn't hear Karen get up to feed her. But no, Marney was sleeping soundly.

Wednesday, August 01, 2001

Sick of those x10.com ads appearing on your screen from yahoo, et al? It's a true marketing test/experiment/trend -- see the full story

Tuesday, July 31, 2001

Marney Update Saturday was her three month birthday and she had her three month doctor's appointment yesterday - she's now officially 10 lbs. 11 oz (plus or minus one dirty diaper), 22.5 inches long. Those values are at about the 25th percentile for baby girls (see the CDC's growth charts).

Thursday, July 26, 2001

The definitive area code guide including lists, maps, planned area code additions, list of area codes in "jeopardy". This is part of the North American Numbering Plan Administration's site. Officially, the NANPA doesn't call them "area codes", they're "Numbering Plan Area (NPA) codes"

There is no "relief plan" for DC's 202 since it is not in jeopardy. DC may be the last major city where it isn't necessary to dial 10 digits every time you want to make a local call. Or maybe, by this definition, DC is no longer a major city.

Tuesday, July 24, 2001

I'm working late tonight but I found a fun radio station on the 'net which is keeping me going, "107.7 the end. Austin's 80s Channel". I heard some Styx, Sting, Go-Gos, and a bunch of other stuff...

Monday, July 23, 2001

Marney Update She's sneaking up on sleeping through the night. Twice last week she slept for eight hours straight, but it was roughly 8 pm - 4 am both times. At that point, however, she's too well rested to go back to sleep after being fed, so she sits there looking happy, alert, and smiling. Unlike her parents.
Back at work now and I'm slowing getting back up to speed with what's going on in the office, but my mind drifts... as we walked on the beach one day last week, Karen wondered how far we could see. I found the answer here. We were standing on a dune so the height of our eyes was approximately 15 ft. giving us a 5 mile view to the horizon.

Thursday, July 19, 2001

Vacation continues, but the geek in me still goes online occasionally. I've uploaded new photos of Marney to the "Marney July 2001" album at our gallery at photos.yahoo.com.

Friday, July 13, 2001

Vacation starts now. Off to Amagansett, NY.
Not five minutes after I (finally) sent email to a bunch of friends announcing this site, Ms. LDMK writes back with the answer to my "general" question from earlier. Go to thomasregister.com and (after you register) search by brand name. Ms. LDMK is a professional researcher for a major newspaper, I'm not surprise she found this.
Posted to memepool, put your order in now for a pre-produced newspaper tribute to Pope John Paul II and others, but don't print it yet -- heed the warning "THE PAGES ARE EMBARGOED UNTIL THE POPE'S DEATH."
Sitting with a coffee cup in my hand, I notice the "Solo" brand name on the lid. One of those nice boring companies that quietly build market share. Wondering if they're public and doing well, I surf a little but google doesn't find anything for me. So, I pose the question to Ms. Brie, a nimble web searcher..
13:56:13 (me): I've got a net-search challenge for you
13:56:18 (Ms. Brie): shoot
13:56:29 (me): there's a specific and a general...
13:56:42 (Ms. Brie): okay...
13:57:04 (me): specific: what company makes Solo paper products (e.g. disposable coffee cups and lids)
13:57:15 (Ms. Brie): Gee, I would've thought they were their own company...
13:57:47 (me): general: find a site where you can enter a product name (e.g. "Crispix") and it will tell you the name of the manufacturer
13:58:10 (Ms. Brie): those are good questions. would be agreat site if there isn't one already. searching...
13:59:37 (Ms. Brie): www.alexa.com used to do things like that, but I don't think it's still around.
14:00:22 (Ms. Brie): www.hoovers.com is the best business resource.
14:02:25 (Ms. Brie): 1: http://www.solocup.com/
14:04:02 (me): well done
Less than six minutes, not bad. I'm still looking for the definitive answer to my general question.
A staff of "about 25 doctors and nurses" delivered septuplets here in Washington last night. There are six medical personnel watching each baby. Marney is now almost 11 weeks old and we're still learning to deal with her. I can't imagine meeting seven newborns. Full story at yahoo.
It's been a busy week for me due to the convergence of deadlines, vacation next week, and a sick wife (she's better now).

addall.com compares prices at 30+ online book stores. It's ArsDigita's problem set one on steroids.

Tuesday, July 10, 2001

Best email of the year so far, from an admin in my company's main office:
A week ago some books came in from Amazon.com in a box not addressed to anyone. Its a very eclectic collection of literature, with subjects ranging from fatherhood, to racecars, to pharmaceuticals, and more (there are 7 books in all). If you belong to these books, please come and pick them up at the front desk.

Friday, July 06, 2001

Seen on /. and definitely in the realm of "more than I need to know", but real cool nonetheless. Check out Google Zeitgeist - a page full of stats and charts about what people are searching for on google.
My current subway reading is the current installment of Warren Buffett's annual chairman's letter to Berkshire Hathaway shareholders (no, I'm not a shareholder). On top of a little bit of discussion of how Berkshire's businesses did he adds a lot of general investment and management philosophy. Here's a nice quote from this year's report:
The line separating investment and speculation, which is never bright and clear, becomes blurred still further when most market participants have recently enjoyed triumphs. Nothing sedates rationality like large doses of effortless money. After a heady experience of that kind, normally sensible people drift into behavior akin to that of Cinderella at the ball. They know that overstaying the festivities - that is, continuing to speculate in companies that have gigantic valuations relative to the cash they are likely to generate in the future - will eventually bring on pumpkins and mice. But they nevertheless hate to miss a single minute of what is one helluva party. Therefore, the giddy participants all plan to leave just seconds before midnight. There’s a problem, though: They are dancing in a room in which the clocks have no hands.
Away.com sends out nice travel-related photos on a daily basis (well, almost daily, even though they call it "Your Daily Escape"). Today's image is quite nice. But since Marney was born, I've stopped using photos of anything or anyone else for my desktop background.

Thursday, July 05, 2001

Slashdot posted a story about a coffee pot with "optical feedback" ... "that results in a highly reproducible means to brew coffee at the same strength time and again." But slashdot's readers provide more interesting reading. I never appreciated how much coffee means to them until reading the comments on this article. My favorite comment comes from a person who insists that to get a cup of proper espresso, you should roast your own beans and then spend $200+ for your grinder and $250+ for your espresso machine.
I did a couple hours of coding yesterday while thousands of Washingtonians waded through Fourth of July festivities. As I was finishing up and preparing to send email to coworkers, our power went off. I eventually sent the message but it would've made an interesting picture -- me sitting at a battery operated laptop, plugged into an ordinary phone line (instead of using my wireless network), and, next to the computer, two glass oil lamps illuminating my notes.

Tuesday, July 03, 2001

Too many volume controls... The speakers have a physical dial, the OS has a master "Volume Control" panel, and most of the audio apps (RealPlayer, Windows Media Player, etc.) have a volume control. I set the volume to a nice level while listening to streaming radio, but then I visit a site with a flash movie w/o a volume control, so I need to hit either the OS master switch or the physical dial on the speakers to turn it down... then the volume level I liked for the radio is lost. Too many controls... how do you handle this?
Sunday's Washington Post travel section had an article comparing results from different map sites. Among the findings:
It was time for an easier test. Could the Big Five get us from Reagan National Airport to the White House? Surely, we thought, the Internet's biggest and best could locate the nation's most famous address. We started with MapQuest, entering "Reagan National Airport" and "1600 Pennsylvania Avenue." Up popped the response: "Unable to find 1600 Pennsylvania Ave."
Mapquest.com has since fixed this bug.
Tip for shopping for a web hosting company -- be sure that "domain.com" and "www.domain.com" return the same page. For example, I wanted to see what sort of new parent classes were offered by Sibley Hospital (where we first met Marney). Somehow, I don't think that Sibley designed sibley.org.

Monday, July 02, 2001

Dueling 404 pages... Bork posted a cool one at borklog. I also like sgi's 404 page. Be sure to hit reload a bunch of times.
Yahoo!'s "Most Emailed Content" page is a good once-a-day place to visit, if only to get a sense of the demographics of the net. The popular photos are a mix of cute animals, sports stars, real news photos, bizarreness, and, from the younger males, cleavage. The popular stories usually have something fun like this one.
Bandwidth speed tests are fun, but http://tech.msn.com/internet/speedtest.asp and http://bandwidthspeedtest.com/speedtest/ give very different results -- at my desk, I got ~900 kbps and ~1,900 kbps, respectively. Mr. Shlabotnik of NYC got ~500 kbps and ~1250 kbps, respectively, on his cable modem. Bork reports 40.2 kbps from the second site on his ISDN line in rural Pennsylvania. MSN flaked out on him when he tried the first one.
Customer: "Can you copy the Internet for me on this diskette?"
-- posted to Computer Stupidities

Friday, June 29, 2001

How do you identify an unfamiliar flag? If you're driving on Massachusetts Ave in DC, you hop out of your car and read the sign on the front of the embassy displaying it. Otherwise, you go to the Flag Detective, a directory ordered by general design, shape, and color.

I found this site after surfing through a few references in an article about a survey of flag geeks that stated that the flags of DC and Maryland are among the ten best of North America's states and provinces (and territories without proper congressional representation, but I digress). For our readers reader in Pennsylvania, the survey ranked its flag near the bottom, along with the many other states who feature the state seal on a blue background.

Thursday, June 28, 2001

Marney is two months old today! She had a check up earlier today and received four shots, poor little girl. Here's how she grows:
MonthWeightHeight
birth7 lbs. 0 oz.19.75"
17 lbs. 15 oz.20"
28 lbs. 13 oz.21.25"
A new name and one that I think will stick: Cognitive Overflow. Coincidentally, a search at Google for this phrase found a paper written by a guy who used to sit at the very desk I now occupy. I keep looking through the papers he left here to see if I stole this phrase from him, but so far I think I'm ok. It helps that my papers now cover most of the desk.

Wednesday, June 27, 2001

While checking for a new release of a piece of software for my Handspring Visor, I stumbled upon Space Trader. After looking at the screenshots and documentation a little, I've decided that it's a good thing that I don't have a sync cable at work. If I have to wait 'til I get home, I may go a whole week before I download it.
I'm glad I take Metro. On a day when Washington's high temperature is expected to be in the mid-90s...
The accident occurred about 7:35 a.m. when ... a red pickup cut off the truck on the bridge. The truck crashed into a guardrail and overturned, spilling tar across all southbound lanes of Interstate 95 [The Beltway] at the Washington Street overpass. That forced officials to shut down all lanes of the major commuter route just before the peak of morning rush hour. (full story)
Continuing on yesterday's aerial photos... Look at the US Capitol. Go to mapquest's latitude/longitude search page (that link will open in a new window so that you can copy and paste) and go to latitude 38.889982, longitude -77.008617. The aerial photo is in color on the east side of the building and black and white on the west side. Why? I wondered if they gave lower resolution to the government buildings in downtown DC for security reasons. But then I noticed that the Pentagon (lat. 38.870553, long. -77.055279) is in color. So much for that theory. Must just be differences in data.

Tuesday, June 26, 2001

This week's issue of The Rapidly Changing Face of Computing pointed out that mapquest.com has a new feature -- aerial photos. Look at a map in a major metropolitan area and then click on the "Aerial Photo" tab above it.

Friday, June 22, 2001

Is "Doug's Stream of Trivia" a better name? I'm not convinced either.
While driving last Friday, I heard a teaser for the next show of Fresh Air which would discuss the trouble with airline travel today and the prospects for a better system in the future. So, with a fast internet connection and the ability to listen to talk radio and code at the same time, I listened to the interview (real audio) earlier this week. The promo on the Fresh Air site says "In [journalist James Fallows'] new book Free Flight: From Airline Hell to a New Age of Travel he looks into the technological innovations which will change airline travel. For instance, smaller jet planes will ferry passengers from local airports, bypassing the crowded international airports."

The interview was interesting... I'm reading an excerpt of the book now (published in The Atlantic Monthly but not available online). It may lead to me buying the book and eventually learning to fly sometime after my last kid finishes college. Or maybe I'll start a mini-airline with the small jets he describes.

Thursday, June 21, 2001

Welcome to wemmick blog. I'm not wild about the name, but it'll do for now.
Why am I doing this?
  • I've been reading borklog and I want to be like BorkWare.
  • I've typed enough stories into AIM chat windows that would be better related from a weblog such as this. It'll save me from copy/paste madness.
  • I wanted a place to announce new photos, accomplishments and such of my little girl, Marney!
Enjoy!