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