Wednesday, April 30, 2003

I am sitting alone in the middle of a 50,000 sq ft (at least) warehouse
and laughing outloud. Sure, Queen is chiming in from the tinny speakers
about someone going slightly mad, but that cannot be it. My name is not
Rand Al'Thor [I am such a geek]. Ah - finally -- the reason.

Page 24.

"Connection to repository may be fatal in a few instances. "

Indeed, I think it may be.

Problem -- users might get upset if they percieve that our app kills
them. I mean they continue smoking and all, but are unlikely to add
another possibly lethal ingridient to their surroundings. Besides, some
of them might be kids and I am not qualified to talk to kids abot death.

Solution -- cross out the fatal part. "Sometimes bad things happen to
good connections"

Problem solved.

A short essay by the author of "Guns, Germs, and Steel" - On The Collapse of Complex Societies
I read and liked the book. The short essay seems rather oversimplified. Frequent references to economics terms are interesting in highlighting the one science that deals with opportunity costs -- and it is not history. Overall, however, I am left with a "so what" feeling after reading the essay. We all know that decisions are made by the government, any government, are first aimed to improve the circumstances of those associated with the government. That is why monarchies do not work very well, or populist governments -- they either aim to please too few or too many people -- but rarely aim to actually improve the society/country as an entity but are concerned with transferring means and fruits of production from one set of hands into another.
Considering the author's expertise in social science, I would have preferred to see some counter-examples about tough problems actually *solved* by some complex society. Icelanders managed to somehow deal with topsoil erosion, did not they?

Tuesday, April 29, 2003

NYTimes editorial that suggests government should regulate email spam -- Crack Down on Spam
I fine idea to be sure. I do not really have anything against requiring spammers to abide by a no-spam list or to use valid e-mail addresses to send emails. I do have a couple of questions -- as a technologist. I wonder if NYT editors ever show drafts of columns that deal with technology to someone inside their own IT organization. How will this law deal with spammers from other countries? what if the entity is foreign but a server is in US? or vise versa? What is a valid email account?
Typically, US Congress has had a dismal record regulating technology because, well they have only one MD and 99 laywers in the Senate. The issue of spam is not a technological one, and will probably be bestdealt with via a legislative and regulatory approach. But the Congress, and the media need to understand the technological issues much better before trying to regulate and legislate. Their current record (DMCA!!!) combined with their tendencies to give in to the White House (Patriot Act) make me very hesitant to rely on their wording of the law to protect me from spammers. Somehow I get a feeling that anyone trying to circumvent a faulty spam filter will go to jail, and I will still receive a zillion emails a day encouraging me to inrease my ... mailbox.

I did not realize I was quoted by SunFlash newsletter. SunFlash Newsletter
Woo-hoo. I guess. Interestingly enough, noone ever got back to me to check the accuracy of the quote. I guess noone reads this stuff anyway.

Thursday, April 24, 2003

An oldish article I stumbled on -- Shag the Dog By William Saletan
I honestly have to say that I have little to contribute to this discussion. Definitely one of the things that seems to have an easy answer, but obviously -- as the author shows -- does not.

Tuesday, April 22, 2003

Good stuff -- USS Clueless - Extreme solutions
Too beliveable to ignore, too scary to believe.
I am not sure about the 20 year Muslim majority number, although I imagine that with small percentages of people voting overall you do not have to have a real physical majority to win political one. Frankly, all that is necessary is to have enough votes to become an indispensable coalition partner (see Shas party in Israel) to have considerable influence over policies relevant to the party line. Looks grim

Monday, April 21, 2003

That's just a very good article
United Press International: Anglosphere: Where have the fascists gone?
Highly recommended read. Thanks to Glenn Reynolds for the link.

Tuesday, April 15, 2003

Wow. Just recieved mail from both CNN and MSNBC breaking news that Abu Abbas has been captured in Iraq.
That's kinda big deal since we kept talking about Iraq terrorist links. I do not know if the guy has been active, or semi-retired, like Abu Nidal who "killed himself" (with multiple gun wounds, right...) a few months back in Bagdad. This does not go anywhere close to showing a serious effort by Iraq to work with current terrorists and terrorist organizations, but I am sure it is going to be spun this way. Definitely looks good on TV.
One of many, many links to the atrocious hijacking of Achilles Lauro

Advertising conspiracy theory -
Puma's Problem - The racy photo that's got a sneaker company steamed. By Rob Walker
An Ad that Puma vigorously denies being real. A conspiracy theory about sub-viral marketing by Puma itself. Hmm... Pattern Recognition by William Gibson anyone? :)

This -- My Personal Digital Cinema Revolution -- was a good read.
Through Roger Simon. An interesting read about an exprienced movie guy trying to make a low-cost movie he controls.

Friday, April 11, 2003

I am beginning to think The Register just has a problem with Google. At least they stay true to their motto ("Biting the hand that feeds IT").

The Register has a good story, that I found through Security Blogabout GoogleWash of an Orwellian term "Second Superpower".
A new word that's sweeping the nation and the world, apparently. While the concert of the journalists is understandable, it is not very clear how this is different from what TV, radio, and print have been doing forever. I guess the speed of its spreading is impressive - 42 days. However, when I look at the size of the audience that is indeed familiar with the word and the concept relative to the size of total populace, even in the countries directly related to the language/culture. I am actually happy to have learnt a new word -- Googlewash. Has such a nice ring to it.

Thursday, April 10, 2003

Good concept -- it is now my duty to completely drain you -- decent execution.
lighting a bit flat. If done under studio conditions could have been *very* good. Of course, we have seen this shot many times in movies, but this is one of the cases where a still is just that much more powerful

I have been thinking more about this whole blogging thing. And because this is a blog, I am writing it out. Trivial recursion with deep reprecussions in transmission costs. Obviously keeping this as just a diary is not really going to attract people to read it. Do I care? How do I even get people who care. if minimally, to read this every day, or every few days? Do I keep my identity secret? Do I reveal it in a flash of glory? Do I remain a typical renessaince man writing about everything? Argh. Difficult choices. I guess that Expedia hotels commerical is right. [deep voice] "A difficult choice to be sure, but yours to make." Off to do more thinking.

Only in New York, kids, only in New York -- A Disgusting Practice Vanishes With the Token
I used to see a lot of turnstyles jammed with gum a few years back, and was never sure why anyone would do it. I figured it was sort of protest against "the man". I heard that people actually got stuck tokens out, but could never figure out how. Now I know -- they suck them out. Unbelievable!

Fantasy auction - eBay item 2922298351 (Ends Apr-14-03 ) - in every sense of the word.
For one, the description is well written and funny. For another, I am not sure this is one acution worth winning. And I remember when selling fake painting masterpieces on Ebay was all the rage. We have come far, but I am not sure we have far left to go. At least in wierd auctions.

Add on to calendars? - IndyJunior Flash Mapping Module
With calendars displaying dates on the web so passe, this could really liven things up. If I was not so worried about my physical safety, I would definitely consider using this. Would not want to see one from a Big4 consultants, what a mess that would be!

Wednesday, April 09, 2003

RDK writes that there is a lense shortage in the world. He attributes it to cell phones. I think digicams are to blame. Either way, I would look to see whether your new Camera actually has real Nikon glass.
Digital Camera, Cell Phone Demand Creating Lens Shortage

NY Times Article -- Egyptian Intellectual Speaks Of the Arab World's Despair
This is sort of interesting. I do not mean to insult the man the writer interviews, but listing all of Mr. Aboulmagd's accomplishments, he fails to actually mention one that did something. Really, just one. Perhaps that is why the phrase, "Similar opinions can also be heard these days from wealthy Arab businessmen, university professors, senior government officials and Western-leaning political analysts — the people whose support could help advance the Bush administration's professed mission: to bring democracy to the Arab world." does not really make me suddenly eager to consider the article's premise -- we should be weary of disappointing Arab elites. We should be weary of many things, but losing support of people who are more interested in status quo than anyone seems like a good move, if you want to change that status quo. Since the article implies that G.Bush does indeed seem determined to change it, I fail to see the problem. How long should one wait to see the work of these fervent reformists?
I am not really ready to get into the argument about US foreign policy right now, just want to say that this could have been a good piece, if only reporter was not afraid to ask hard questions. As is, I am underwhelmed by the pleas of rich Middle Eastern businessmen for return to "say a lot, do nothing" status quo.

Size of Saddam's Ego - a local perspective
A morning DJ for a local FM station stated, with honest surprise that Iraq is full of statues of Saddam, some quite large. Based on that she concluded that he must have [had?] the biggest ego in the world. Did she ever see Mount Rushmore? I am not a big fan of Saddam, but really, what kind of Stalinist dictator would he be if he did not have a few thousand statues erected by the "grateful" people over two decades in power? Moreover, what can one say about an un-official requirement for every government official to have a portrait of the sitting president in their office? I guess our ego is just as large, but directed towards the institution of power, not its holder per se.

Looting in the streets.
Today's big news all seem to center around rapid progress in Baghdad and toppling of various statues. And of course, looting. I do not recall Germans or Italians looting their country as Americans, Brits, and Russians moved through. Cannot vouch for French though.

Slate Diary By Gershom Gorenberg
Excellent, excellent piece of writing that could not leave me untouched. The prose is lightly treading on explosive emotional ground and the content just makes you feel a lot more than 50 embedded reporters and a full CNN shop can. While the article deals with Israeli reality, it is obviously easily applicable to all of those places were conflict reigns. Especially so in those areas where brutal conflict comes after relatively periods of pease and stability. Highly recommended.

Why Blogger?
I apologize in advance to whoever bookmarks this as I am not sure I am going to keep Blogger. It was really easy to setup, and received highest marks from CNET, but seems to be very, very basic. I also tried out Radio UserLand, which seemed quite a bit more powerful, but also quite a bit more intrusive and top heavy. I really liked their XML integration with other news sources, and ability to comment on posts. Knowing who links to your blog was nice too. I might end up using it after all, but having to pay is less than attractive, and I am not sure I have anything so interesting to say to the wider world that advanced editing and news gathering services would be required and extra cost justified.
Anyway. I am hoping to use this as an easy to follow a diorama of my reading, watching, whining, and photograph posting. I have a strong feeling that the latter will take up most of the blog. If so, I might create a separate one. Of course, then I would need to move it to templar, but since blogger requires FTP, I am not sure how it would work. Ideas?