Seldo.Weblog: September 2003

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For my next trick, folks, I will be writing...
Perl! It's an evening of entertainment -- for the whole family!

LAUGH as I totally fail to remember how to call member functions!

THRILL watching me waste hours tracking down a bug that turns out to be a spelling error in the function name!

CRY as my boss looks over my shoulder to help discover why my code isn't working and notices I've commented out the vital line!

Yes, the excitement never ends at Wide Area Communications.

andreia

15 July 2009
eu adoro isso gente nao sei por que mais gosto quem quizer mim add no msn>> andreia_hiphop@yahoo.com.br
eu sou morena do olho verde e sou muito legal e danço hip hop add ae

Slow day at work today; my boss is demoing some software I've written, so I can't work on it until...

Slow day at work today; my boss is demoing some software I've written, so I can't work on it until he gets back to me. Time for a blog backlog! My backlogs at the moment are a bit split, since I'm surfing from home and work and have different bookmarks at these places. Incidentally, I have an idea for a nifty solution to that problem, which I'm going to code sometime real soon, any day now, once I've finished coding everything else in the world...
  • Villain Supply.Com for all your evil genius needs. Shop in categories like "Lairs and bases" (Skull Island, Al Qaeda Caves going cheap), "Traps and Torture" (Insta-Fall™ trap doors, Bottomless Pit), and "Doomsday Devices" (Black Hole, PlanetBuster subterranean missile already sold to Dr. Evil). Genius site, amusingly written.
  • The new Diamond Age examines the recently emerging technology of mass-produced, high-quality artificial diamonds, and the massive effects this will have on society at large, not just De Beers. Diamonds are an extremely efficient semiconductor and could revolutionize the microchip industry. Fascinating descriptions of how the diamonds are made, and De Beers' more than slightly sinister efforts to shut them down.
  • UK unemployment is at a 28-year low, despite a crappy American economy. This is mainly due to massive expansion in government jobs, like teachers and doctors. No break for IT workers yet.
  • A list of radio station frequencies in the UK is one of the many surprisingly useful lists available in SmartOnline's free reference section. Good free things rule.
  • The hottest form of life on earth is Strain 121, a microbe living near deep-sea thermal vents under high pressures, at temperatures of up to 121 degrees. Wicked cool, genetically engineer that capability into me in time for next summer.
  • Shakespeare's R+J is a new version of Romeo and Juliet, set in a public school and acted by a four-person, all-male cast. Homoeroticism ahoy! Somebody buy me tickets.
  • Doctors have secret slang for describing patients' conditions without letting the patients know, such as GLM (Good Looking Mum, see also MILF), TEETH (Tried Everything Else, Try Homeopathy), PFO (Pissed, Fell Over) and UBI (Unexplained Beer Injury).
  • Russia is planning to build nuclear power station on Mars. And Mars needs a power plant why, exactly?
  • I've been listening to Classic FM a lot at work, so I'm hoping the Mozart effect is real, though it seems unlikely that listening to piano concertos could make you smarter.
  • China is being attacked by Giant Gerbils, leading to scores of B-movie inspired headlines. It says something that these gerbils have managed to wreck an area of land in China about the size of Switzerland, but nobody noticed for ages. Yes, indeed, it says that China is big, which I think is a revelation to us all.
  • I like to think that everything I say is fair and balanced, but apparently Fox does not like me to do so. Nuts.
  • The NYC blackout as indicated by network failures. Even after 9/11, way too much of the net flows through NYC.
  • If you need a cool desktop wallpaper, the standard is Digital Blasphemy.
  • Ever wondered why your snooze alarm is 9 minutes long? (Or did you not notice?)
  • Britain has, in typical fashion, replaced its-not-very-good, not-very-memorable 192 directory enquiries service with a range of even less memorable six-digit numbers. These are very confusing, but you can sort them out at New Directory Enquiries.Com. There are more of these numbers than you'd think.
  • Jesus Christ this is a scary story. Somebody straps a bomb to your chest and then sends you out to rob a bank? Look for the made-for-TV movie in December, of course.
  • Check out these cute Japanese wristwatches. Almost nice enough to make me want an analog watch, or at least to repair the strap on my current watch, which I have consequently not worn for months...
  • The Federal Vampire and Zombia Agency is a good example of a poor joke taken waaaaaaaaaay too far, although vampire biology is quite clever.
  • The school principal who blew £500,000 using the school's BarclayCard has been sent to jail for five years. But hey, she got to live it up until then.
  • Today I learned what the SysRq key does. On Linux, it's apparently really useful.
  • MIT offers online university courses for free, some of them very good indeed.
  • The iRider browser is surprisingly innovative (if not actually as good as FireBird). And I thought browsers were a mature product.
  • The guy who chooses the background music on the weather channel has fans.
  • Soon you will be able to sign for stuff online using your mouse. Apparently it's just as hard if not harder to duplicate as a real signature, and the software that recognizes it is 99% accurate.
  • An interesting throwaway remark about the Blaster.B virus variant is that the original MS Blaster was reverse-engineered from the patch. So if Microsoft hadn't tried to fix the hole in the first place, it would never have been exploited. Makes you think, huh?
  • Xtina likes how Madge kisses, pretends not to be pissed off that most papers only ran the Britney kiss.
  • TicketMaster has decided to auction concert tickets itself. People are complaining about this and yes, it means the richest fans will go, not the most dedicated ones. But I support giving artists money, and since selling CDs is a doomed business model and the tickets sell for $1000 on eBay anyway, why shouldn't the artist get that money instead of the scalper? This just makes sense to me. Of course, I almost never go to concerts and I think them overpriced at their current prices, so I could be biased.
  • And finally, for your daily dose of surreality, the world's fluffiest rabbits. This is less cute, more disturbing, IMHO. (via meg)

Whoa, that was pretty hefty. But it filled up my work-less afternoon quite nicely...

I recently downloaded an episode of Queer Eye for the Straight Guy. It was funny and cringeworthy...

I recently downloaded an episode of Queer Eye for the Straight Guy. It was funny and cringeworthy in roughly equal parts, but Jai Rodriguez is clearly hot, and clearly embarrassed to be a part of the show, probably even more so now that it's a hit. Meanwhile, Google will show you the range of Queer Eye spin-offs ("black eye for the white guy", "pimp eye for the plain guy", "l33t eye for the newbie guy", "crazed eye for the sane guy", etc. ad nauseam).

Oh, and Matthew is having a baby. Good lord but that man is funny. Or maybe it's just that having babies is inherently funny? More research is required. Toby, I'm looking at you here...

Also in the news today: the world's most famous muppets team up with the world's most famous puppet to sell American Values™ to the world.

Prêt-a-revue

I have a new mission in life, folks. Over the next few weeks, I am going to buy, sample and review every single product sold in the Pret a Manger across the street from me. I will post my reviews here, for the betterment of all mankind. So, kicking off with today's meal:
  • The deluxe prawn sandwich was definitely an experimental choice; you wouldn't catch me eating prawns in a sandwich. Or so I thought. Consisting merely of big prawns, fresh mayo and nice bread-with-bits-in, this sandwich was light, tasty and refreshing, without any sort of "fishy" flavour I was expecting. Very yummy indeed.
  • This was followed up by the Natural Yoghurt Pret Bowl. These are amazing creations. Fresh-tasting fruit in a medium-thick syrup of some kind, covered with a layer unsweetened natural yoghurt, covered in turn by a thick layer of crunchy honey-glazed granola and nuts, the three ingredients mix unevenly as you eat, producing a sweet-sour-crunchy-smooth mixture that's different every time. I thoroughly recommend these.
  • My drink today was an unimaginative Coca-Cola, which is of course the drink of the Gods. In future however I shall sample the range of Pret-branded drinks on offer.

People (I think in the context of the article I read it was American people, clearly the only kind...

People (I think in the context of the article I read it was American people, clearly the only kind worth studying) apparently hit their snooze buttons an average of three times before waking up. This makes me a below-average snoozer, of which I believe I am justifiably proud.

Last night I tried a trick that I read on a blog recently but -- to my link-happy horror -- I can't remember which one (but it was probably Tom). Anyway, the trick involves using your body clock to wake up, and feeling more refreshed as a result. This was important last night, as I'd accidentally stayed up until 3am working on something; whoopsie. So I looked at my alarm clock, set it for 8.15, and said to myself "Right, waking up at 8.10, in 5 hours and 5 minutes times".

Which, to my surprise, is exactly what happened. And I don't feel nearly as exhausted as if the alarm had gone off and I'd hit the snooze half a dozen times. Cool.

If I think I got a lot of flak for being boring and blogging my lunch, I can't imagine how you all will yell that I've also blogged waking up in the morning. Hey, at least I'm not blogging about my cat, right? Dear god, will someone kill the cat blogging meme before it spreads? Maybe I can engineer a conflict and wipe out both groups.

(And your completely surreal referral for the morning is... a blog about pants! Why the fuck is this guy linking to me?

Things responsible employees don't do, #1

Use VNC and an ADSL connection to fire up The Sims from their machine at work during their lunch break.

Bad. Very bad.

Today's Pret

  • More than mozzerela: basil, rocket, mozzerela, pine nuts, mysterious sauce. Good in places but mainly bland, and mozzerela doesn't feel very substantial even though it's very good mozzerela. More basil would have made it more interesting. Generally not tasty enough, nor particularly satisfying.
  • Pret cranberry cola: Pret's marketing centers around the lack of chemicals in its food, so I was interested to see what was in "cranberry cola". The ingredients list: grape juice, carbonated water(40%), cranberry juice (only 10%), grape extract, citric acid, ascorbic acid, natural cranberry flavour. They have a cute little asterisk next to the two acids saying "Don't worry, citric acid is just lemon juice and ascorbic acid is simply vitamin C. (we have to use the technical jargon to keep the food authorities happy!)". So it's nice that they think to explain what the acids are, but then why is the "cranberry" cola more than 50% grape juice? That's not sounding too pure to me, it wouldn't have been hard to call it "grape and cranberry juice" would it? Unsurprisingly, it doesn't taste much like cranberry juice and is rather bitter, but refreshing if you're looking for a fizzy drink that's not too sweet and not just water.
  • I'm very doubtful that their hand-made lemon cake is at all hand-made, but I'm not very bothered if it tastes nice. Not particularly sweet nor (for the cake part) noticeably lemony, it's a bit heavy, but moist and filling. The top is the most interesting bit; it's been covered in coarse-grained sugar which has then had lemon juice sprinkled on it, which is a very nice and as you eat that suffuses through the rest of the fairly bland cake. So overall pretty good, might have it again.

Dan's right; this blog is dull as dishwater recently. What am I doing wrong? Possibly not browsing...

Dan's right; this blog is dull as dishwater recently. What am I doing wrong? Possibly not browsing enough, or thinking enough. No more pedestrian cat-blogging. Good god, did I really blog my lunch? TWICE?

Linkage! Freak yourself out with some optical illusions. The current guestbar at BoingBoing is...

Linkage!
  • Freak yourself out with some optical illusions.
  • The current guestbar at BoingBoing is by Macki of Rotten.Com. His latest entry (and his self-description) are amusing for both containing lots of out-of-place capital letters, which spell out "FUCK YOU ALL".
  • It's gotta be a photoshop. Oh dear god, please let it be a photoshop.
  • Bummer
  • The estemmed Boy Meets Boy has some good competition from the less-subtly-named FAGZ, which is drawn marginally less well, but frequently funnier*. And a lot more nekkid, which, let's face it, is a major criterion of the webcomics I read.
* Although, to be fair, today's Janeane Garofalo-the-vampire-slayer strip was genius ("I like my vampires slayed with acerbic wit")

So, the RIAA is trying hard to be more evil, and has got as far as suing a 12 year old girl. A 12...

So, the RIAA is trying hard to be more evil, and has got as far as suing a 12 year old girl. A 12 year old honour student*, who lives with her single mother in low-income housing, no less. I feel really sorry for this kid, who ended up settling for $2000, so help her out by paying back her settlement fee.

* which makes one sceptical of her claims not to have understood that her $29 for Kazaa wasn't also paying for the songs, but that's not the point.

How to get Java to work in Mozilla Firebird

  1. Install the latest version of Java (1.4.2) from Sun's site. You've probably tried this.
  2. Download this Java Registry patch for Firebird.
  3. Double-click that file to add a single key to your registry.
  4. Restart Firebird
Simple, huh? Firebird is a hell of a lot better documented than Mozilla ever was.

Also, try browing Amazon like you never have before. This UI takes a while to get used to, but wow, that's functional. I love innovative HCI.

Birthday weekend 2003

Mission: accomplished

Thanks for coming, everybody, it was great, even if you did have to subsist on garlic bread and crisps while I cremated food on the bravely rescued barbecue (thanks Tobes!). A good time was certainly had by me; I hope the rest of you enjoyed yourselves as well :-)

Everybody should get on down to the Stealth Disco, currently taking Wide Area's London office by...

  • Everybody should get on down to the Stealth Disco, currently taking Wide Area's London office by storm. I introduced everybody to it, but who do you think gets stealth disco'ed more than anyone else? Of course.
  • My current so-good-it-makes-the-hairs-on-the-back-of-your-next-stand-up song is The Remedy by the somewhat oddly named Jason Mraz. This is probably old news to everybody stateside, since it seems he's already been on TRL. But people in the UK need to get on the case.
  • Meanwhile, Matt of Defective Yeti has struck again, namely the nail on the head, in announcing the RIAA lawsuit against Share Bear:
    "We're not talking about Funshine Bear or Love-A-Lot Bear, here," she noted. "Share Bear has set up an entire B2B [bear to bear] sharing network, and not only knows how much fun it is to give some of her good things to others, but has often been heard encouraging others to 'do your share of sharing!' Clearly the RIAA cannot just stand by and allow this behavior to continue."
  • Angle Grinder Man is making headlines. Could this be the UK's answer to The Naked Cowboy for pointless costumed nuttery? In true UK vs. USA style, Angle Grinder Man is much less attractive and doesn't make any money, while the Naked Cowboy pulls down $150k annually and is spending most of it on body-enhancement surgery.
  • Finally, HomeStarRunner gets significantly surreal with Teen Girl Squad #4. I especially like "You're Not" potatoes.

Chutzpah

As of this morning, there is no such thing as a "domain name not found" message, at least for .com and .net addresses. Verisign, the company in charge of administering these top-level domains, has pointed all the unoccupied domain names in the world to their new search engine, complete with sponsored links. This is BIG. This is a change to the way the web works, and in the way people expect to use the web. It is also a HUGE commercial opportunity for Verisign: how many times a day do you think people mis-type a domain name? Well, now they get that many hits.

Of course, who it'll really piss off is Microsoft. Since version 5, Internet Explorer's default behaviour when it can't find a domain name has been to redirect the user's browser to MSN search -- this has had the effect of making MSN one of the biggest search engines. As of this morning, Internet explorer will not get "domain not found" errors -- they'll get Verisign's new site. So MSN's traffic will have just fallen through the floor.

The balls Verisign have to even consider hijacking, let me remind you, ALL THE UNREGISTERED .COM ADDRESSES IN THE WORLD, is just staggering. It's like waking up in the morning to discover the government have paved over the countryside. Side effects of this move include:

  • You agree to their terms of service simply by visiting their site. You visit their site by making a mistake. Verisign are forcing you to enter into a legal agreement by accident. That's illegal in, well, everywhere.
  • It breaks spam filters. Many anti-spam and anti-virus services check the e-mail comes from a valid domain name as a simple way of blocking fake e-mail. Now there's no such thing as an unregistered domain anymore, these services will fail.
  • It breaks the DNS standard. It's not even supposed to be technically possible to do what Verisign are doing; they have modified their software to allow it. Since they have an obligation to provide a DNS service, and what they are providing is no longer technically the DNS standard, it is again illegal.
  • All e-mail sent to non-existent domains goes to them. They don't even have to do this, but are doing it anyway. All e-mail sent to non-existent domains will go through Verisign's servers, where they will be able to store the messages, harvest e-mail addresses, or whatever else they fancy.
  • There are any number of other technical problems caused by this move.

I. Am. So. Angry.

So, following Dan's worrying new trend of finding profound meaning in Robbie Williams songs, I...

So, following Dan's worrying new trend of finding profound meaning in Robbie Williams songs, I caught Come Undone on MTV* just as I was leaving the house, and the following lyric jumped out at me:

I'm not scared of dying
I just don't want to
If I'd stop lying
I'd just disappoint you

Nothing sums up my feelings recently better than that single line.

* Of course, when I say "MTV", I mean "an unspecified music television channel" since the original MTV, as we all know, is now Cribs TV.

Meanwhile, today is International Talk Like a Pirate Day, mateys, so avast and embarrass yourselves talking like idiots all day. Arrrr.

Good lord, TV is going to suck this season. But new Smallville season from October 1st --...

Good lord, TV is going to suck this season. But new Smallville season from October 1st -- w00t!

No, it's not a slow day or anything...

Trapped like rats

Scientists attempting to study how humans behave when trying to escape, in order to design safer exit routes from public buildings, have discovered that trapped humans behave a lot like mice. Among the counter-intuitive results of their study: wider doors mean everybody tries to cram through at once and gets stuck, while narrow doors make people form orderly queues. Putting doors close together doesn't work either, since the queue for one will often block the rest.

As usual, humans are a lot more like dumb animals than we choose to believe.

Stuff to read

9-11 Survivor is a game mod based on the Unreal Game engine. It recreates the twin towers on...

9-11 Survivor is a game mod based on the Unreal Game engine. It recreates the twin towers on September 11th, and places the player on a floor at random in one of the towers when the plane hits. The player has to find their way out: face masks protect you from smoke, cellphones can't dial out but can be used as light sources, water bottles restore health, and if you find a fireman you're saved.

Please say this is a joke...

Total Recall*

The Segway company is recalling all of its products because when the batteries run down -- unsurprisingly, in retrospect -- you fall off and hurt yourself. All the Segways, I hear you ask? Yep, all of 'em, including the test models and the commercial ones used by the postal carriers. How many does that come to?

6,000 units.

So, sales been a little slow then huh?

* Surprisingly, not a joke about the Californian election.

Cordelia will hate me

Long-time readers (both of you) will remember how much I loved the story about the baby, a hilariously-written weekly look into the life of newborn, as told by her father. As promised, the story about the baby ended at Cordelia's first birthday. Happily, it has now been replaced with The Story About the Toddler, updated less frequently but still hilarious, to whit:

For reasons that are not yet clear to me, a lot of parents we know are worried about their children learning cuss words. This is a truly charming display of futility. In the world we live in, even the most sheltered Amish child will have learned enough swear words to cuss like a longshoreman or the Irish by the time it is five.

So I am approaching the issue from a much more realistic perspective. I am not going to waste energy keeping Cordelia from swear words. Instead, I’m going to skip a step and just make sure that she is able to use them in more colorful ways than her schoolyard chums.

If some dirty little sprog says she is a poo-poo head, I want her to be able to call him a “ball-draining cum junkie”. She should be able to deflect all those silly little schoolyard taunts by tossing off a casual “Lick my ass, fucktard.”

And if some boy says she has cooties, I want her to fire right back with “Yeah. Well, we’ll see how easy you say that when my cock’s in your mouth.” This doesn’t make any sense, of course, but hopefully it’ll confuse and distract him enough for her to really put the boot in.

This guy is clearly a great parent.

Don't wear sunscreen

If I could offer you only one tip for the future, sunscreen would no longer be it.

The long-term benefits of sunscreen have been placed into doubt by scientists, meaning it's no more reliable than the rest of my advice, which has no basis more reliable than my own meandering experience. I would dispense this advice now, except I have better things to do.

Italians do it with the lights out

London had a two-hour powercut which completely toasted the capital for a day; that affected a quarter of a million people, and everybody screamed blue murder.

The North-Eastern United States had a massive powercut which plunged nearly 30 million into darkness across a quarter of the country and Canada. This sparked political action.

Italy had the largest blackout in history, affecting nearly the entire country (Italian population: 57 million). What are they doing? Apparently, nothing much. It's like an entire nation run by those crazy people who come to parties and break things.

Also, are massive blackouts like this common, or is it just bizarre coincidence that there have been three huge ones (plus some in Denmark and Sweden) in such a short space of time? Or is there a massive cover-up going on of the fact that Al-Qaeda have found a way to disable our power grids at will? I love conspiracy theories.

Surely this works as well?

What should we be using software to do? THE BIG IDEA: integrating video in some way? Mobile? What do I want to do? http://www.oreillynet.com/pub/wlg//3812 Read more clay shirky! http://www.xoops.org/modules/news/ PostNuke 0.8 http://www.dinerminor.com/ xaraya.com miko - ocean.village@btopenworld.com http://centre.ics.uci.edu/~grape/modules.php?op=modload&name=Wiki&file=index&pagename=RFC%20-%20Request%20for%20Comments http://mikespub.net/tools/xaraya/profiling.html

Change! Your! Name!