Monday, December 16, 2002

"We're trying to teach little Susie to use the telephone, so I'm putting her on now." and other ways to end conversations with telemarketers, prostitutes, missionaries and more, from the Washington Post's Style Invitational.

Friday, December 13, 2002

I saw a particular IP requesting a bunch of pages from a server I work on and found an interesting hostname...


Tuesday, December 03, 2002

For those times when you need an ASCII chart and don't feel like using man ascii, take a look at
Here's the text of spam I received today.

Friday, November 22, 2002

Hu's on first (I got a version of this by email and found a copy on the 'net to link to.)

Wednesday, November 13, 2002

I'm don't really recall how I got there... but I was reading a thread on (ex-ArsDigita client) Best $100 Bottle of Wine and somebody suggested "20 bottles of thunderbird for me doc....and some pepto bismol to go with it" and the thunderbird theme continues in later posts. (Yes, I know that "ex-ArsDigita client" is redundant.)

Monday, November 04, 2002

I received a summons for jury duty. I'm trying to figure out how to avoid it. This site might help. Some highlights:
  • A prospective juror in a Dallas District Court was surprised by the definition of voluntary manslaughter given the panel: "An intentional killing that occurs while the defendant is under the immediate influence of sudden passion arising from an adequate cause, such as when a spouse's mate is found in a compromising position." "See, I have a problem with that passion business," responded the jury candidate. "During my first marriage, I came in and found my husband in bed with my neighbor. All I did was divorce him. I had no idea that I could have shot him." She wasn't selected for the jury.
  • The last time I served on jury duty, the judge in Martinez, CA told the 100 perspective jurors, "...and I don't want to hear any O.J. Simpson the jury system doesn't work excuses. If O.J. was in my court he would have been guilty as hell!
  • A woman brought her boss along, who said that he was a building contractor, that his business could not operate without the woman, and that if the woman reported for jury duty she would be fired from her job. The judge ordered the woman to report for jury service the next week, and ordered her boss to do his jury service upon his employee's completion of her jury service, and that if he fired the woman he would be held in criminal contempt of the court.

Wednesday, October 30, 2002

Whoa. In 1994, we had Thanksgiving dinner with friends who deep fried the turkey. Underwriters laboratories thinks this is a bad idea and there's a movie to show you why.

Friday, October 18, 2002

Wednesday, October 16, 2002

It really is possible to gain useful knowledge on slashdot. In the article "Mac OS X to Get Journaling FS", one reader explains how journaling file systems work with a nice analogy that involves a librarian falling out of a window.

There also a tangential discussion comparing features of linux vs. OS X which includes the line "Damn that apple and their embracing of open standards."

All this has me seriously thinking about getting a mac. We bought a video camera this weekend and iMovie seems like it'd be a nice way to share some movies of Marney.

Thursday, October 10, 2002

Senate Panel Votes to Give D.C. Full Voting Rights in Congress ( no, it won't get any further than committee approval.
Supporters of the measure note that the District is the only jurisdiction where U.S. residents who pay federal taxes and serve in the military have no vote in Congress. The District, with 572,059 residents, ranks second among the states in per-capita federal income taxes paid, and it suffered more casualties than did several states in 20th-century wars, from World War I through Vietnam.
And still "Minority Leader Trent Lott (R-Miss.) restated his flat opposition to the measure". Please, somebody, explain to me again how an allegedly patriotic American like Lott can oppose the basic right of congressional representation.

Wednesday, October 02, 2002

I've found a new pastime to try, Letterboxing. From the FAQ:
Here's the basic idea: Someone hides a waterproof box somewhere (in a beautiful, interesting, or remote location) containing at least a logbook and a carved rubber stamp. The hider then usually writes directions to the box, which can be straightforward, cryptic, or any degree in between. Selecting a location and writing the clues is one aspect of the art.

Once the clues are written, hunters attempt to find the box. In addition to the clue and any maps or tools needed to solve it, the hunter should carry at least a pencil, his personal rubber stamp, an inkpad, and his personal logbook. When the hunter successfully deciphers the clue and finds the box, he stamps the logbook in the box with his personal stamp, and stamps his personal logbook with the box's stamp. The box's logbook keeps a record of all its visitors, and the hunters keep a record of all the boxes they have found, in their personal logbooks.

It's appealing to me because it's a goal-oriented (yet still basically pointless), it's a nice weekend outing with my wife and daughter, and it's a modest way to get a little more exercise.

My big beef with the site is that there's no entry for District of Columbia on the directory of clues. Repeat after me:

Washington, DC is not part of Maryland.
Washington, DC is not part of Maryland.
Washington, DC is not part of Maryland.
Washington, DC is not part of Maryland.
Washington, DC is not part of Maryland.
On a UI note, the Letterboxing North America web site has one of the most creative uses I've seen of image map navigation, particularly the page about their mailing list.

Wednesday, September 25, 2002

Dolly Parton was interviewed on NPR's Morning Edition this morning about her new album. NPR's site has more info and some great quotes like Parton's comment on Whitney Houston's success with Parton's "I Will Always Love You"
I will always appreciate her -- I made a lot of money, and I need a lot of money, because it costs a lot of money to look this cheap.
But the best part is that she covers "Stairway to Heaven" (Real Audio) on her new album and it's not that bad.

Friday, September 20, 2002

Following a story on slashdot about "L33T" Speak Invades Schools, some slashdot readers got into a discussion of the proper way to translate the Lord's Prayer into "L33T" Speak.

Thursday, September 19, 2002

Proof that I'm a unix weenie. I've got a bunch of lines in a web server log file that look like this:

[19/Sep/2002:20:07:50][19141.88][-sched:31-] Notice: ep_email_alerts (1): finished processing user alerts for 20 of 452 total users in 00:07:19 (21.00 sec/user)

I want to know the average "sec/user" value for all of these lines and I do this with one command line:

% grep sec/user gateway108-error.log | awk -F\( '{print $3;}' | awk -F. 'BEGIN {count = 0; sum = 0;} {sum = sum + $1; count = count+1;} END { printf("count = %d\nsum = %d\navg = %.2f\n",count,sum,(sum*1.0)/count);}'

I didn't say it was a simple command line. Here's what the output looks like:

count = 115
sum = 2229
avg = 19.38

So there.

Monday, September 16, 2002

Over on Scripting News, Dave Winer bemoans that searching google for "Dave" doesn't show him as the number one hit, he's only second. At least he's up there and at least the number one hit is a person.... search google for "Doug" and the top hit is an acronym for the Director Online User Group. With a little effort and self-promotion, I might get myself up towards the top. That'll be next year's project.

Thursday, September 12, 2002

Time magazine has discovered instant messaging: "A Swarm of Little Notes", subtitled "Is instant messaging creating a work style that's breezily efficient — or one that's more oppressive?" The article is written at a pretty high level (this is Time magazine, after all), but it hits on many points both for and against IM. It'd be a good thing to share with a boss who still thinks that IM is for teens.

Monday, September 09, 2002

Seen over at ThinkGeek, the Universal Command Guide. "It describes and illustrates every command in every commonly used operating system, and cross-references each command to the equivalent commands in other operating systems." Covers many dialects of un*x, wind*ws, and macint*sh.

Thursday, September 05, 2002

This is a nifty device... the eFilm PicturePad is like an iPod for photos. It combines a 20 or 30 GB hard drive, a small lcd screen, a compact flash slot, a few buttons and outputs for USB or TV display. I suppose it won't be long before somebody combines the features of this with a built in mp3 player.

Friday, August 23, 2002

In the "I knew it had to be done sometime", there's a site like The Internet Movie Database for Broadway performances, called (surprise, surprise) The Internet Broadway Database. In addition to the basic information about shows (and subsequent revivals, etc.), it has an impressive list of replacement actors (i.e. look up Les Miserables and see every actor who has played Jean Valjean since 1988).

Thursday, August 22, 2002

Wednesday, August 21, 2002

It's a process monitor, no, it's a lava lamp simulation... no, wait, it's both, it's LavaPS.

Friday, August 16, 2002

Paul Graham writes about A Plan for Spam involving statistical analysis of an individual users email. Start with two big chunks of mail -- one that is known to be all spam, one that is known to be spam-free. Based on this, he was able to devise a system that works pretty damn well.

I found this via a link from slashdot. The accompanying discussion is more useful than most slashdot conversations and has numerous links to other spam fighting software and theories.

Wednesday, August 07, 2002

I saw this 19" Dell flat panel monitor last night. It's beautiful. Too bad it costs $1,299.
The Catapult Watch!
I followed a few links from a story on slashdot about office toys and got side tracked to a story about a guy who built a trebuchet with the idea of riding it himself...
The test load went straight up, and came straight down on top of the catapult. Obviously I had a serious design flaw. I also now had a badly damaged catapult.
Don't worry, there's a happy ending (and photos, too).

Tuesday, August 06, 2002

Al Gore strikes back, Broken Promises and Political Deception (NYT registration req'd)
According to The Polygeek Test:
I am 37% geek
You are a geek liaison, which means you go both ways. You can hang out with normal people or you can hang out with geeks which means you often have geeks as friends and/or have a job where you have to mediate between geeks and normal people. This is an important role and one of which you should be proud. In fact, you can make a good deal of money as a translator.
Normal: Tell our geek we need him to work this weekend.

You [to Geek]: We need more than that, Scotty. You'll have to stay until you can squeeze more outta them engines!

Geek [to You]: I'm givin' her all she's got, Captain, but we need more dilithium crystals!

You [to Normal]: He wants to know if he gets overtime.

Friday, August 02, 2002

Tuesday, July 30, 2002

From a friend:
I'm reading The Gangs of New York and learned that in the years following the Civil War my neighborhood was called SATAN'S CIRCUS! Evidently walking through the 20's between 5th and 7th Aves you couldn't spit without hitting a whorehouse.

Kind of like Starbucks now.

Friday, July 26, 2002

From the July 1982 issue of The Atlantic, James Fallows describes Living With a Computer. It echoes thoughts I had when first working with computers (and seeing friends who weren't):
The process works this way. When I sit down to write a letter or start the first draft of an article, I simply type on the keyboard and the words appear on the screen
But he also talks about things that make me chuckle today, such as spending "$800 for a cut-rate disk drive" to store up to 100k on a single disk (to get around the 48k RAM limit). He also discusses the state of the OS battles:
My system uses the North Star Disk Operating System, abbreviated DOS and pronounced doss, but North Star didn't win. The winner was a DOS called CP/M (for Control Program for Microcomputers), which has become the industry standard and is earning millions for a formerly small company known as Digital Research.
Digital Research has produced a version called CP/ M-86, which will work on the [IBM] Personal Computer and other 16-bit systems ... but many people suspect that IBM will wage a counteroffensive with a DOS of its own.
Bill who?
Phone Scoop is a nice community site with information about cellular phones and services. In addition to locally hosted reviews of equipment and service plans, it also has a gateway to the alt.cellular newsgroups.

Tuesday, July 16, 2002

Six preliminary concept designs for the World Trade Center site were announced today. See scale models, maps, and descriptions at

Tuesday, July 02, 2002

Here's a nice convenience site that reduces the amount of time you need to search around or just to download ISO CD images: Many distributions (including some BSD distros as well) are there, ready for downloading, plus pages to help newbies with burning and such. I haven't tested their bandwidth 'cause I just recently downloaded Mandrake 8.2 images from an official Mandrake mirror.
Vacation begins today. We're off to Spring Lake, NJ on the New Jersey Shore, not too far from the beach seen on this web cam.

Thursday, June 27, 2002

Little things that make me smile... I have a headless linux box at home that I built over a year ago. It's very reliable, even when rebooting after a power outage. So today, while reading a discussion on the DC Linux users' group mailing list revolved around configuring grub to recognize a new kernel, I really couldn't remember if I chose to go with grub or lilo when I built it.

Wednesday, June 26, 2002

A low-tech way of sharing information about where wireless accesspoints are: warchalking. I don't expect to see many of these soon... but you never know.
WiSE Zone provides wireless internet at coffee shops in the DC area. The rates seem a little high -- $0.20/min. for pay-per-use, $6.95/day or $19.95/mo. for unlimited service at a place where you spend more money to buy coffee and munchies. But, if I were travelling on somebody else's dime, it would be worth it for the potential productivity (assuming I didn't spend too much time reading and writing blog stuff).

Tuesday, June 25, 2002

Why do people move out of DC? Here's a classic example - the DMV (already reviled in DC more than in most states) decides to put registration expiration dates on the inside of the car's windshield. This addresses the problem of thieves stealing the stickers off of license plates. Nice idea, but poorly executed.

Somebody forgot to tell the DC police and the various other local law enforcement agencies like the U.S. Park Police. These officers have been dutifully ticketing cars that have "expired" registration according to the stickers on the plates, despite an up-to-date sticker on the window.

Full story from

Do you think that .com, .net and .org are too passe? Why not register your domain with a tiny ccTLD such as .as, .pn, .hm, etc.?

Wednesday, June 19, 2002

"Basic Linux Training is a brief, introductory level course written specifically for those coming from a DOS/Windows background, without any knowledge of Unix or programming." They provide lessons and mentoring by way of a private mailing list (promising a high signal-to-noise ratio) and weekly IRC chats. It's an interesting idea and I'll recommend it to some coworkers. I'll be interested to hear how it goes.

The next term begins Monday, 1 July 2002. See the bottom of the page for registration information.

Tuesday, June 18, 2002

Monday, June 17, 2002

In case you haven't heard, there's a big international soccer tournament happening now called the World Cup. Nike is running some fun ads showing a 3-on-3 tournament featuring internationally known players, Elvis music and a snide referee who explains "There is only one rule, first goal wins". If you want more, take your high-speed connection (along with Flash and Quicktime) over to to see various versions of the ads, videos of every match, descriptions of all teams, games and more.

Sunday, June 16, 2002

An excerpt from a commencement address delivered by Washington Post humor columnist Gene Weingarten.
As I look out today on all your fresh young faces -- your eager, clean-scrubbed young faces -- I am struck by how skin-care products have improved since when I was your age. I hope you're grateful for that, you little snots.

Monday, June 10, 2002

Not quite as disturbing as the Total Perspective Vortex: Powers Of 10

Thursday, June 06, 2002

While walking near my office yesterday, I crossed from the Eastern Hemisphere into the Western Hemisphere... at least according to the American Meridian, used in the U.S. from 1849-1884. George Washington University has placed a marker on the sidewalk and an explanatory plaque at the corner of 24th & H St.

Thursday, May 30, 2002

Here is the world's smallest website. Look carefully and you'll see navigation buttons. There are games such as pong - this looks very similar to the resolution of the original game 20 years ago but it's somewhat dwarfed when viewed on a 1280x1024 desktop.

Wednesday, May 29, 2002

I just finished reading Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire which ends the resurgence of the evil Lord Voldemort and Prof. Dumbledore's advice that unity between wizards, giants, and Muggles will be able to defeat this evil. Then I see a headline on today's USA Today suggesting that Al-Qaeda is trying to provoke war between Pakistan and India in Kashmir.

It's so clear now. It's all a conspiracy! J.K. Rowling, on behalf of her fellow wizards, has written what at first glance are merely very readable novels about Harry Potter and the world of wizards. Actually, though, the wizards and Lord Voldemort are real. Lord Voldemort is known to us Muggles as "Osama Bin Laden". The super-secret Echelon survellience network and Area 51 are just a cover to hide wizarding schools and Quidditch arenas. The delay of the release of the fifth Potter book is probably due to a squabble at the Ministry of Magic about how much to admit and how much help the wizards need from us Muggles.

Before you question whether or not I'm completely mad, somebody else has had similar thoughts. Does that prove or disprove my madness? Does it support my theory?

Tuesday, May 28, 2002

In a discussion on slasdot about "How Effective are Ergonomic Keyboards?", one reader echos my sentiments about why keyboard-based editor are better for your hands.

Thursday, May 16, 2002

PC Magazine Utility AutoWhat? 2 lets you examine and edit the auto-complete data used by IE and other programs.

Wednesday, May 15, 2002

ewwww... here's a candidate for on ebay you can buy the bone chips from Seattle Mariners pitcher Jeff Nelson's recent surgery. Drat! Ebay took it away. A friend tells me that bidding was up above $12,000 when he last looked.

Tuesday, May 14, 2002

Congratulations, you've won a brand new Toyota Toy Yoda.

Monday, May 13, 2002

Be glad that your mother doesn't leave messages like the messages on Amy's Answering Machine. (This has some good text, but much better Real Audio content.)

Thursday, May 09, 2002

A new distributed computing project is starting to model climate. In the FAQ, we find that some astute readers have asked "Won't all these computers being left on for 24 hours a day have a detrimental impact on the Climate System?" Here's a summary of the answer:
  1. 100,000 computers running this software use 432,000,000kJ of energy per day. (Is 432gJ legal in physics jargon?)
  2. This same amount of energy can boil water for 5,400,000 cups of tea.
  3. 37 million UK residents consume 126 million cups of tea collectively each day.
  4. Therefore, UK tea drinkers will use 23 times more energy each day than this project (at the (optimistic?) level of 100,000 full-time computers).
Every now and then I'm bombarded by competing reactions and I don't know how to react. Should I be amazed by the skill and hard work? Should I be bewildered by the amount of time spend on a seemingly trival pursuit? Should I just bow down in awe of the geek-factor? The trigger (this time) is the Periodic Table Table by Theodore Gray

Thursday, May 02, 2002

Monday, April 29, 2002

Marney's birthday was yesterday! At her birthday party, I was reminded of the Toddler Property Laws. This certainly has more relevance in my life than it did when I first saw it 5-6 years ago.

Thursday, April 25, 2002

Today was the first day of a two day Oracle training conference here in DC. Tom Kyte, of gave an enjoyable presentation. He strongly believes that application development should start in the database, use all features and facilities provided by the database (e.g. use dbms_job instead of cron), and freely admits that coding for database independence is not usually a good thing. In defense of this last one, he quoted this recent rantanswer he gave to a question on his website.

Friday, April 19, 2002

As Tom and Ray say, "From the Car Talk section of"... downloadable sounds, some would make nice error messages.

Thursday, April 18, 2002

Three pages of inspirational sport statues. Why does Jesus need skates when playing hockey? Does the whole "walking on water" thing not translate to ice?

Wednesday, April 17, 2002

This page at the National Park Service's website has a link to a great pdf map of tourist Washington. It prints nicely on legal size paper.

Monday, April 15, 2002

National Geographic has a couple nifty map utilities... printer-friendly pdf maps and the MapMachine - dynamically generated, informative maps, sort of a MapQuest for people who want geographic information not limited to U.S. street maps.
Check out the results from the Washington Post's latest Style Invitational "seeking cynical definitions a la Ambrose Bierce ... looking for jaded drolleries". Such as:
  • Peacetime: When there are no wars anywhere you care about
  • E-mail: An urban legend delivery system
  • Telemarketer: A Caller ID salesman
For further edification, you can read Bierce's Devil's Dictionary here (black-on-white HTML), here (white-on-black HTML), here (plain text, yet oddly double-spaced), here (formatted for PalmOS readers), or find other versions.

Monday, April 01, 2002

In a past life I was a NeXTSTEP programmer, so I particularly enjoyed "Mac OS X Hidden Secrets Revealed" from
Should I change the tone of Cognitive Overflow to something like this? (fair warning and disclaimer: I am not responsible for what happens after your boss looks over your shoulder and sees what is generated by that link)

Wednesday, March 27, 2002

I can't believe I lasted this long with the control key in the wrong place but every time I spend just 1-2 hrs on a machine with the control key properly located next to the A, my left pinky is at ease again and it complains when I return to the windows layout.

So, finally, I installed a little utility called ctrl2cap I downloaded a while ago and I now have three control keys! I've lost my caps lock key, but I don't really care about that.

Monday, March 25, 2002

The PowerMate looks cool... a fancy metal volume control that sits on your desk that has a nifty glow about it.

Wednesday, March 20, 2002

Happy Birthday to me! It's also my nephew's first birthday. He and the rest of his family came to visit last weekend. We had three kids under 3 underfoot all weekend. It was lots of fun, but very hectic. The most amazing thing was that on Saturday we actually got all three kids to nap at the same time... and then all four parents napped, too.

Tuesday, March 19, 2002

Imagine reading these black-and-white words in color using only a differently wired brain. Some people do, according to this article from Kind of sounds like fun.

Wednesday, March 13, 2002

It's chauvinistic, I think it's supposed to connect with people who really like a video game, it's a zipped mpeg and it's quite funny (in a politically incorrect sort of way).
Very nice graphics at Worlds Tallest Buildings Diagram. Use the search form at the bottom of the page to limit results to buildings in a geographic area or by use (e.g. office, residential) or status (e.g. built, construction, destroyed).

It doesn't seem to include some notable American cathedrals, e.g. St. John the Devine in NYC or Washington National Cathedral. The facts and figures page on the Washington National Cathedral's website doesn't give an exact height, but says "The Cathedral's center tower is as tall as a thirty-story building." which is certainly tall enough to be included in's database.

Monday, March 11, 2002

eBay Auction Tip - received in email, found on the 'net using google image search.

Friday, March 08, 2002

While surfing around for information about open source java platforms, I found a new way to web surf on the last line of this page of JOnAS documentation:
  1. start tomcat, using for example the script shown previously. It may be useful to run tomcat with a CLASSPATH upgraded with the .jar files of the beans used by servlets and JSPs, because for some reason, tomcat sometimes fails to find this .jar file in its lib directory.
  2. start the EJBServer
  3. Use your brother to access the welcome page, usually index.html
Another fun, comprehensive reference site: The Worldwide Holiday & Festival Site
Real men play pong to the pain.

Tuesday, March 05, 2002

Further adventures in the truly pointless... take a speech synthesizer, the source for linux and broadcast it over the internet

Monday, February 18, 2002

"Please listen closely to the following options as our menu has changed" The Enron Voice Mail System (requires Flash)

Friday, February 15, 2002

Joel on Software has written a new column, "The Iceberg Secret, Revealed" in which he discusses how non-programmers view demo software, prototypes, mock-ups and how this can lead to unreasonable expectations by the users. "Understand that any demos you do in a darkened room with a projector are going to be all about pixels. If you can, build your UI in such a way that unfinished parts look unfinished."

The discussion about the article contains many real-life examples of this. One reader discusses why he never uses real text anymore on his mock-ups and instead uses the pseudo-Latin starting with Lorem ipsum.

What is Lorem ipsum anyway? Cecil Adams, author of Straight Dope, a syndicated newspaper column, answers the question in a column from last year.

Another interesting link from Weinberger's blog: - fun with redirection!

Wednesday, February 13, 2002

Heard in an All Things Considered feature (RealAudio) on weblogs, David Weinberger says "In the real world everyone is going to be famous for 15 minutes, on the web everybody is famous to 15 people". Naturally, Weinberger has his own weblog. I liked his enhancement of the Blogger's Manifesto (posted Feb 14).
Here's one way to get around in heavy traffic (seen in an article in the March 2002 issue of The Atlantic.

Wednesday, February 06, 2002

Big list of languages for creating PalmOS programs.. Smalltalk, Lisp, even *gasp* COBOL.

Well... the COBOL was an April Fools joke and the best part of their page is this disclaimer at the bottom:

Although we produce a COBOL compiler, Yorick Systems in no way endorses or condones the actual use of this crusty old language. Neither Yorick Systems, nor its parent company (Tasaday Software), may be held liable for any loss of productivity caused by wondering what the hell they were thinking back then.
From SatireWire Passed Over, Syria, China, Libya Form Axis of Just As Evil

Tuesday, February 05, 2002

I'm getting a new cell phone soon because I'm not happy with Cingular's reliability and I can't use my current phone with Verizon. I'm probably going to get a Motorola phone with predictive text input -- the phone tries to guess what word I want based on only a single tap on each key. Motorola calls this iTAP. Nokia and some other phones use something similar called T9.

It looks like such a good idea, that I thought it'd be nice to have that on my Palm, too. Candidates for this are WordComplete and TextPlus. They were reviewed head to head in this review from Nov 1999 (the review compares WordComplete 1.0 (currently 2.0), TextPlus 3.0 (currently 3.8) and LookDA (which the reviewer found more lacking))

Interestingly, I found these because the makers of the fitaly keyboard didn't allow them to be used in this contest which compared speed of input methods (fitaly won, of course). Gee, what are these products that I'm not allowed to use because they'll make me too fast? It looks like you can use fitaly along with either WordComplete or TextPlus for super speed.

Does anybody have experience with any of these products?

"Enron shares" and "Aeron chairs" not only sound alike but are both associated with financial mismanagement.

Enron shares and Aeron chairs
doo-dah, doo-dah

Friday, February 01, 2002

Found on another, Under wraps: How they kept the Segway secret from USA Today. It also discusses the Segway technology a little.
The first installment of Oliver Twist from arrived in my mailbox this morning. A little Dickens to start the day each day should be fun...
The fact is, that there was considerable difficulty in inducing Oliver to take upon himself the office of respiration,--a troublesome practice, but one which custom has rendered necessary to our easy existence
and it appears that may be publishing this just as originally published by Dickens. Here's the close of the first installment:
as he knocked at the gate and read the bill next morning: 'I never was more convinced of anything in my life, than I am that that boy will come to be hung.' As I purpose to show in the sequel whether the white waistcoated gentleman was right or not, I should perhaps mar the interest of this narrative (supposing it to possess any at all), if I ventured to hint just yet, whether the life of Oliver Twist had this violent termination or no.

Wednesday, January 30, 2002

This happened just around the corner from my office!
Marney News: She turned nine months old this week. She's crawling faster and faster every day. She pulls herself up to standing whenever possible.

New photos available (including crawling, standing, and covered in green beans) in the "Dec 2001", "Jan 2002", and "Marney's Friends" albums at her photo album.

Here's an interesting article about downtown Wellington's 13 sq. mi. LAN providing 1 gigabit network access to all subscribers. Seen on slashdot.

Tuesday, January 29, 2002

Follow das BlinkenLights in my new home network set up... my web browser tickles the led on the 802.11 card which tells the wireless base station which has makes two lights blink (one for wireless, one for ethernet)... that second light is talking to the broadband router and more lights blink, one from the base station and one going out on its WAN port... to its supplier, the cable modem with its own array of blinking lights! Pity our poor guests who have to sleep in the guest room where most of these lights live.

Thursday, January 24, 2002

Photos, specs and history of ballparks.
Stolen iMac recovered due to remote control software installed on machine and help from friends on USENET group. Full story at

Wednesday, January 23, 2002

Slashdot's current poll asks readers about their preferred case material. The comments highlight some creative solutions, such as one guy who makes nice wooden cases "Personally, wood, sanded smooooth, and painted with an ultra-glossy black laquer finish (think about a nice black piano) is the killer case" or the guy who put his computer in a large tupperware container so that he could put it outside his bedroom window.

Tuesday, January 22, 2002

Nice marketing. With Flash v5, a high bandwidth connection and either Windows Media Player or Real Player, you can listen to the full soundtrack for Ocean's Eleven. Fun movie, fun soundtrack except for one annoying rap track. Some reviewers at complained about the dialogue excerpts, but I don't mind them.

Thursday, January 17, 2002

A cow-orker pointed me to Rotten Tomatoes which collects movie reviews from many sources and presents a consensus rating.
From themail, a mailing list about DC-related topics, a reader voices his opinion:
Though I have never been considered very politically correct, being a throwback to a former era, I strongly object to the name of the local professional football team, the Washington Redskins. This name is more than irritating, it is offensive and insensitive. It is timely to change the name of this team right now. The team should be called the Maryland Redskins

Tuesday, January 15, 2002

Monday, January 14, 2002

I received spam on my seldom-used account with the subject line "Make Your Love Life R Rated". Here's a paragraph from the official guidelines for achieving an R rating from the MPAA:
An R-rated film may include hard language, or tough violence, or nudity within sensual scenes, or drug abuse or other elements, or a combination of some of the above, so that parents are counseled, in advance, to take this advisory rating very seriously. Parents must find out more about an R-rated movie before they allow their teenagers to view it.
Hmmm, hard language, tough violence, drug abuse, teenagers watching with their parents... that's not exactly what I strive for in my love life. "Nudity within sensual scenes" is nice, though.
Humorous, biting Star Trek episode reviews for TNG, DS9, and Voyager. Lots of spoilers, lots of fun. Also known as "Star Trek: The Next Cliché"

Friday, January 11, 2002

Two guys show up at 2:00 a.m. to check in to their guaranteed hotel rooms and are told there are no rooms. After rude service, they send this powerpoint presentation to the hotel's manager.

Thursday, January 10, 2002

Marney Update... At eight months, she's at the 80th percentile for height, 75th percentile for weight, and 40th percentile for head circumference. Her head doesn't look out of proportion. (28", 19.25 lbs)

In other Marney news, she crawled across the floor for the first time last night (and the second time and third and fourth...). Karen and I were sitting in our basement, eating chinese food and watching TV while Marney napped. A little bit after she woke up, she spied my plate and crawled straight toward it. Once there, I picked her up and moved her back across the room... and she went striaght back to the plate. Repeat 10-20 times.

We had seen her take a couple tentative moves forwards, but this was truly the first time that we've seen her crawl so directly and speedily.

Time to babyproof the house.

Wednesday, January 09, 2002

A little known data transmission protocol IP Datagrams on Avian Carriers. I doubt that it's used much either.
Nifty geek clothing for carrying my Visor, cellophone, wallet, keys, etc...the eVEST.
Here's a game to play... what's your score? Add the rank of your first name and last name. Does high or low win? Names not on the list are ineligible to win high score. My mother scores a paltry 16 (1+15), I'm a simple 60. My sister in law is 11,751.
I was just looking at the lists of the most common male and female first names previously mentioned and noticed astounding differences in distribution of names. Each of these files account for approximately 90% of the U.S. population by gender, yet...
  • there are 3.5 times as many female names as male names (4,275 female and 1,219 male).
  • there are eleven male names which represent more than 1% of the sample, and only three such female names
  • the top 10 male names represent 23.5% of the sample, the top 10 female names only represent 10.7% of the sample

Tuesday, January 08, 2002

More fun than the many lists of common baby names. Here are lists of the most common first and last names from the 1990 U.S. Census. Just call me 45-15. My daughter doesn't appear on the list, at least not the way we spell Marney. Maybe it's because she wasn't born yet and her namesake died in early 1990, probably before she filled out her census form.
My wife always bemoans having to use a common last name like Harris. I didn't realize that it's the 15th most popular in the U.S. That's a lot higher than other names. reports on a workable dot com business plan: sell your dot com for $82.5M in late 1999 to ExciteAtHome. Then, when ExciteAtHome goes bankrupt, buy your company back for $2.4M.

Friday, January 04, 2002

All the hoopla about the security hole in AIM had one pleasant effect. A slashdot reader's comment pointed me to Trillian, the first windows based messaging client which satisfies my need for just one program for AIM, icq, Yahoo, irc and logs all conversations, too. Be sure to download one or more alternate skins, the default one is ugly and huge.