Saturday, March 08, 2003

Acidman for President?

His take on what Bush should have said in the news conference.

ScrappleFace Strikes Again

Great release on how Blix is handling the Death Star.

Strange Dream

I had another strange dream. Someone was griping to me about how awful it was to deal with VAT (value added tax), and I had a mental image associated with that similar to the Massachusetts registry of motor vehicles branch in Plymouth way back before the registry started being reformed into a pleasant model of efficiency under Bill Weld. I advised the person I was talking to that it depended which VAT you were dealing with when you went there, and for instance the oil VAT was never a problem. They said something like "oh, that's good to know!' Then I woke up.

Yes, I have dreams like this all the time. It's kind of fun when I actually remember them.

Fighting Unemployment

I run a mailing list for people I used to work with, as a way of keeping the team together and in contact socially and technically. There are about 60 awesome people on the list.

To the best of my knowledge, 16 of them are currently unemployed (mostly) or underemployed. That's a "malemployment" rate of more than 25% among this modest sized group of technical workers, all of whom used to support Microsoft Visual Basic (mostly) or Access, and in some cases other products before that. They are programmers, web developers, support specialists (or capable of going back to that as needed), quality assurance testers. They have a variety of other experience and skills. For instance, one of them did Fortran development before he ever learned VB. Many of them know general geek stuff like hardware and gadgetry, and all of them could learn. Ditto for networking and related matters. All of them have more generic expertise in using and troubleshooting the Windows environment and Microsoft products than most people. They have foibles like all of us, but are amazing people to work with and to know.

And so many of them are unemployed or doing inappropriate or part time work it makes me want to cry. It's just not right. I've discussed with my partners whether there might be ways we could put some of them to work, even itinerantly, in a way that helps them and helps us grow our business. I'm not sure what will come of that. I've thought about trying to promote them on our web site, either to land them jobs, contract them out, or convince people to hire us for projects centered around the talents specific individuals can bring to bear. We'll see what happens. They are a fantastic resource, representing a tremendous potential opportunity.

These people are located primarily in eastern Massachusetts, but one is in New Hampshire, one is in Rhode Island and two are in upstate New York. Naturally I would welcome any suggestions of openings people might want to apply for, or requests for submissions of resumes from them.

Once I was out of work for a year and two weeks. I can't imagine ever going through that again! Yet that's probably about the average. One of them, arguably the first I would hire if I needed a solid, well rounded VB developer with an appreciation of proper planning and design, has just surpassed two years out of work. Sheesh! When I went through the dry spell, I had been doing whatever I could subsequent to college, mostly being barely employed for a few years. I never had found work that bore any relation to my degree, but I'd played with computers already for years, and accelerated my knowledge while out of work. I was officially looking for accounting-related work, but my heart wasn't in it. I kept bulking up my resume with more and more computer-related aspects, yet never realized at the time (1992) I could seek something like support work. That despite already having started helping people with computer issues and training them when I was a lowly receiver. Back then, and in my position, there was no online job hunting and I couldn't just go to a recruiter and sit back waiting to be sent on interviews. I mailed out some 1200 resumes during that year, generating just a few interviews, and a massive collection of rejection letters and postcards.

Eventually a company in Lowell received my unsolicited resume, saw the combination of skills on it, and imagined a new position they could possibly create. That was so cool, knowing I had inspired the idea. I went in and talked at length with the two key people, toured the place, and didn't get hired. I believe they decided to make do and not create the job, which would have involved computerizing quality control and cost accounting aspects of factory production. I'm sure I could have done it, but it would have been a serious challenge. Which means it would have been great fun! While they didn't hire me, they passed along my resume to another company that did, to support PC-based POS systems. In the end, after 1200 resumes, impressing someone I sent a resume to got me a job with someone I had never heard of. Go figure.

The point of all that is that sometimes I wonder if some of my unemployed friends are too passive and uncreative in their search. By no means all of them, and even being assertive doesn't seem to bring speedy results. The other point is that being out of work ad nauseum is a vile experience I'd love to see ended for everyone I know. So if anyone actually reads this, feel free to let me know if you can help me help them out as noted earlier. When we're done with them, I also can find a ton of people with networking and Exchange experience who are in similar straits...

Friday, March 07, 2003

What kind of geek am I?

You are 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.

Take the Polygeek Quiz at


I'm confused. I have seen the Blogfather used in reference to Glenn Reynolds, to the Blogger founder whose name escapes me as I type this, and now to by the Inscrutable American in reference to Emperor Misha. So which one is in fact The Blogfather?


These guys are great, especially this one

Rachel is back! Yay!

She tells us what she learned from her hiatus here.

Odd Request

Today I have to verify that a client wants what they asked for yesterday, which is the complete disabling of a major extension to their case management software. Two of us spent 150 hours (more really, but that's what we charged the project) analyzing what they wanted to accomplish, creating and implementing it. It collects important information about case outcomes. I think it more likely they need it modified, not disabled. I'll be pretty shocked otherwise. I don't believe they want what they think they mean that they want.

Business Leadership Award

Yesterday I received a call at the office for my partner who has a day job. This isn't exactly unusual; we've been there for 49 months, he was there for the first 10 months, but almost every sales weasel or beggar who calls asks for him. What does one do to make that happen in such a short time, so they keep calling for you in perpetuity? Anyway, I automatically know that if they ask for him, it's probably a sales pitch, a charity, a scam, a phone company wanting us to change our service - oh wait, I already covered that under "scam" - or something along those lines. The most insidious thing ever was police association solicitors. We seem to have gotten rid of those finally.

So I took a message. Usually they don't want to leave a message, so it caught me off guard. This e-mail to my partner sums it up:

Maureen Kormanik called from Tom deLay's office in Washington. She would like you to call her at 1-888-843-9009 any day I believe she said 9-9.

You were selected for some national business recognition award (???!) and she wants to talk to you about a press release.

That's the message. What the reality is I have no idea. Either she was genuine, or she was really good at sounding it. If it's a "scam" I would assume it's a fundraising thing for the senator or party in question.

My partner replied that it is indeed a scam, which he's encountered before, in which the recognition is given in return for a campaign contribution. He sent me this URL discussing the particular scam.


Periodically the heat in my apartment decides it will be completely unresponsive, so I got up to 62 degrees this morning. It seems to have kicked in now, an hour later.


Ironically, I wrote this post praising Earthlink yesterday, only to arrive home last night to a spurious $5.00 bill. I sent an e-mail as follows to their billing inquiry address:

Today on my weblog I posted this, singing the praises of Earthlink in response to Jerry Pournelle's complaints:

And tonight I come home to Invoice Number 000000111775508.

Hello, we straightened out that I pay annually and I do not receive monthly paper bills. I paid my annual bill some time ago; December I believe it was. Bingo, done for the year, no more hear from Earthlink until late in 2003 when the next year is due.

So why in the world am I receiving a bill for $5.00, out of the blue, the first one since I paid for the year? Perhaps there's a good explanation and I am not seeing it? You appear to be billing me $2.00 a month on a balance of zero, charging me for your billing me a spurious bill.

You obviously have vast goodwill from me, if you read my post at the URL above, but naturally I'm going to keep something like this in mind for future reference, depending on the outcome.

Please let me know ASAP what the story is. You allowed only FOUR business days before the amount becomes past due. If it proves to be a legitimate charge in full or in part, I will want to drop you a check right away.

Basically the $5.00 appears to be an accumulation of $1.00 amounts that they charge per bill for the privelege of receiving a paper bill and not being automated. Previously I had paid for an entire year, then they sent an invoice every month telling me how much I didn't owe, disrupting the credit balance by another dollar. I got that straightened out easily and the invoices stopped. They changed their system and made it so each bill charges $2.00 rather than $1.00 for the privelege of being billed.

Which is where I suspect things went awry. I figure there was $1.00 more that was supposed to be included on the payment for the year, thouigh if so it wasn't included in the bottom line and may just be a construct of their billing system's imagination. So a dollar, billed a couple times with $2.00 charge tacked on for the privelege of being billed each time, would indeed come up to $5.00. It would make more sense if this weren't the first bill I'd received since the annual installment was due and paid.

Anyway, they are nothing if not prompt. I got an instant acknowledgement with a tracking number. This morning I got a reply informing me that my issue is too complex for e-mail and I must call them. What?! They can't look up what is going on with the account and the reason for the bills, and send me an explanation of why I received them? It also tells me about the online options for checking and tweaking my account. But hey, my account is probably too complex for that.

Argh! I hate making support and customer service calls. In fact, days ago I was in the middle of composing a post about phone phobia in current and former phone support people when my computer spontaneously rebooted. Haven't gotten around to writing it again yet.

The irony of this, the timing, is mind boggling.


This is hysterically funny, once you get into the exchange between the two people.


This prediction regarding the press conference does not seem to have come true. I was hoping for an announcement that we had OBL secured in the proverbial undisclosed location, or that he had been confirmed to be cave pizza.


Well, next time my doctor asks if I've been getting exercise, I can say I have. Sort of. But surely not what he had in mind. Just spent 10-15 minutes shoveling snow at the office, followed by 10-15 minutes of shoveling snow at the apartment. My blood pressure was an impressive 110/60 afterward, which is pretty amazing considering what it spiked to a few years ago when I took the stairs from the mezzanine to the 10th floor of the Park Plaza Hotel in Boston during Arisia.

When I started seeing my current doctor, I was taking no meds and my blood pressure was at about 220/140. That naturally freaks people out. I'm on three prescriptions now, which do the trick nicely, except the last two times I went in to have it checked, it was something like 124/96. The 96 makes them nervous. One of the times there was a cute, friendly nursing student there doing the preliminary reading, so I'd like to think that was what raised things that time. However, the next time she was nowhere to be seen. The common thread is the appointments were early enough in the morning that I'd not been awake long and had made a mad dash through idiot-laden traffic to get to the medical center.

I present a challenge, which intrigues my doctor. I have this blood pressure that rages to insane levels. There's no apparent damage that's been caused by it. There's no apparent cause for the hypertension. My heart is in almost perfect health as far as we can tell through EKG and a sonogram. My kidneys look beautiful in an MRI, with no sign of pheochromocytoma in their vicinity, where it is in almost all instances. I consume relatively little salt, and add virtually none to food of my own accord. I am overweight, but I had hypertension when I was 60-80 pounds lighter and physically very active. My cholesterol is okay. My blood sugar is okay. Both of those are remarkable results. I gather some of my traumatic early medical history from my first few years of life is in no way relevant.

As of the last visit, my doctor was left pondering the possibility of cushing's disease (or syndrome). I don't think it's particularly likely, but it's possible. In looking this up online, I discovered it's a very common canine affliction, and then I learned that Kashmir, one of my father and stepmother's dogs, had that when she died a couple years ago. At some point I'll post some links to dog pictures and include her.

So we'll see what happens. I have a device I have for getting a reasonably acceptable blood pressure reading myself, but I'd not used it much for a while. I did a reading about a week ago that was even lower than tonight's; on the order of 100/57 or something like that. But I'll go to the doctor, "white coat anxiety" will kick in, and it'll be more borderline.

Thursday, March 06, 2003

Ignore this post

Doing more tweaking, now that the blogger link is back. (Easy fix.) Seeing if I can get the counter text to show somewhere, anywhere now.


Okay, I tried messing with things and this is the obligatory post to force Blogger to update the template. Here goes...


It appears that Blogger ate the logo and link it puts on the Blogger site that is required to stay there under the Blogger terms of service. Does Blogger give itself a stern talking to for violating its own terms of service or what?

Guess I have to have a look and see if they actually destroyed the template. I have a backup at home that might work for rebuilding it, if so. Or perhaps it's just normal antics, which seem to pass if you wait long enough, and it will magically reappear.

Color Change Soon With or Without UN Approval

Sgt. Stryker has the scoop.


Of course, I forgot I can't display pictures and just that kind of meter. So I just changed it to a text version, but since it's a template change I have to make an entry - like this one - to force it to update.


I just added Sitemeter to be able to check my stats. That way I can be sure nobody's reading this stuff.


Now that's an SUV!

Superman (and woman)

Good coverage and commentary by Jay Zilber on the prospective new Superman film. I don't know about Victor Webster as superman, but I happen to think Victoria Pratt is pretty super.

What I believe would be cool for the next Superman film is to do another season or two of Smallville, then segue into films centered on Tom Welling as Supes, Michael Rosenbaum as Lex where needed, and any of the other existing cast as it might fit the story as it moves out of Smallville and he actually becomes Superman. Chloe could even show up once in a while as Lois Lane's cousin.


Dvorak has a good article on UCITA. Via Glenn Reynolds.

Which reminded me of a post I made to a mailing list last September, pre-Blog, as follows:

For those who don't wish to try to read and figure out the gist of the above, in the case this is about, the court is relying on a shrinkwrap license as being even more of a "real contract" than the evil UCITA might do, and they are applying it to mean that reviewing a competitor's software and saying "hey, that's a feature our customers could use" and adding said feature to your software would constitute a violation of the "reverse engineering" clause almost universally found in shrinkwrap agreements. I suppose I could have made the preceding regurgitation into more sentences, but oh well.

All of which is moot if you see your competitor's program in circumstances where it's licensed and operated by someone other than you, I would say, since then you never "agreed" to a thing.


Interesting article on spam from an ISP's perspective.

Coin of the Realm

I noticed I keep coining words; four in the brief time I've been writing this blog. Perhaps if I keep it up, one of them will catch on, at least among the couple of people reading this. So far I've managed:

Mentablogging - Direct brain to blog communications.

Weaseltongue - Potteresque play on posseltongue, referring to German and/or French.

Weaselnomics - Foolish economic policies that are bound to result ultimately in stagnation, especially as practiced in Axis of Weasels member countries.

Designicide - Adopting a clearly bad product design, especially doing so because everyone else is doing it.

Will there be more? Does anyone care? Stay tuned...

Icky White Stuff

Argh! More snow. Last I knew there was a possibility of snow today, maybe something like an inch. I left the house today expecting nothing more than that. But nooo, it's snowing like crazy, piling up fast, and supposed to be 4-8 inches. What's up with that!? I have quite enough snow for one winter, thankyouverymuch.

My father moved to northernmost Vermont for the snow, to go snowmobiling, but they've had no more snow than us flatlanders this winter. I would happily send some of it there if I could.

Driving is bad out there. Apparently there's been a 15 car pileup on route 24, and a 100 car pileup on route 495 near Attleboro. Even in weather like this we don't usually get accidents like that around here.

Spring, where are you? Hurry please!


That's route 95 for the pileup, not 495 as I originally heard. Currently 50-100 cars, lots of injuries but none life threatening.

Driving is very treacherous, and for some reason nobody's bothering to plow yet with four inches or so already on the ground.


Oh my. Jerry Pournelle is having some serious issues with Earthlink. I would feel the same way, were I in his shoes.

The thing is, I love Earthlink. I have never had anything but excellent service, correct billing, and to the limited extent I've needed it, friendly, superlative support. My only problem with them is I can't use an e-mail program through any ISP from anywhere to retrieve my Earthlink e-mail, and may only get it through the web interface if I am not on directly with them.

My first e-mail address ever was through a BBS I used to use, Tangent. At first it was when Hunter first got UUCP service. Then it was when he got a domain. But this was still through a BBS, without web access except eventually text-only Lynx. So I eventually got a real ISP, a small outfit called Nexuswww. They promptly went out of business with no warning, no indication what became of them, no way to contact them, owing me about five months for which I'd prepaid.

Finally I signed up with ICI. They were always decent, if not perfect, and were a large enough regional ISP to avoid the fly by night scenario again. Eventually they were swallowed by Winstar, at which time service became rocky for a while. Then Winstar settled in and was as good as ICI had been, plus they kept the domain so nothing really changed. Winstar seemed to go downhill a bit just before selling its accounts to Earthlink. I was alarmed that Huge Faceless ISP was taking over. Oh no! But I hung in there. As it turned out, things improved immediately. The price went down! Service became better, and then became almost flawless. My e-mail address changed, but I wasn't that attached to the old one.

My father, who uses, had a positive experience as well. There was more work to be done in Vermont to improve things, but it's more reliable and there are more local POP numbers he can choose from. He also got to keep his same domain and address. Amusingly, many people who used freaked when they saw Earthlink coming, fled to a small, local service, thus helping to improve connectivity for those who didn't flee, and overwhelmed the small ISP so it had lots of problems. Heh.

All that said, I have heard negative things about Earthlink. My brother tells me it depends what part of the country you're in, and that it's so good here because they got such a strong infrastructure from ICI via Winstar. Who knows. I can only say that they appear to have me hooked until I ever get broadband, assuming that's not also with them (I hear it's not their strong point). And I can say that if I employed customer service/support people and learned they were as obtuse as Jerry reports, they wouldn't last long.

Geeks Are Cool

Excellent article on geekdom, via Glenn Reynolds.

Current Reading

I just started reading Voyage by Stephen Baxter. The only other of his books I've read is Manifold Space, which apparently is the third in a series that includes Manifold Origin and Manifold Time. That one was excellent, if a bit intense. This one is an alternate history with the primary point of departure being that Kennedy is shot and crippled, but not killed. His wife is instead.

Due largely to Kennedy agitating for it, a voyage to Mars is undertaken about as early as it possibly could have been in our history. I haven't read far yet, but the first thirty pages I read in the book store in "can't put this down" mode. I'm not usually one to start reading at the store.

Of course, I have composed this a couple other posts in w.bloggar, but the others didn't publish, so this one gets pasted into Blogger to force the issue...


Herr Schroeder, tear down those regulations.

Did people learn nothing from Reagan, Thatcher, Hayek and others? It might cause even more pain in the short term, but Germany needs to do something to stop the self-imposed stagnation discussed at Ditch or trim the semi-socialist policies, regulations, and constraints on economic bloom, and bloom the economy will.

On a related note, I don't understand why someone would want to be a dictator, not a traditionally brutal one. If I were somehow in that position somewhere, I'd take advantage of it to impose economic sanity and freedom on the place, do my best to ensure it could not easily be revoked, then step aside. What better way to be revered by your people in the long term.

On another related note, I actually have a first cousin in Germany. We've never met, spoken, or corresponded. Had I known he existed when I was taking German, I might have made more effort to really learn it. My mother keeps somewhat in touch with him. He and his sister were quite a surprise to us when she called my grandmother one night, looking for her father. Turns out when my late uncle was stationed in Germany, he married without permission of the army. When the army found out, they objected because he hadn't had permission, and poof, no more marriage. These two kids we never knew about were a result. One stayed in Germany with his mother, and as an adult remained after she moved to the U.S., and the other was adopted by an army chaplin and wound up in Minnesota, more recently moving to Georgia.


I had the most bizarre dream. Rory Gilmore, or Alexis Bledel as the case may be, was happily pregnant with puppies. But not just any puppies; puppies with an experimental mix of human DNA. Beyond that I remember none of the details. It was probably inspired by a combination of something I read in Science News, my devoted viewing of Gilmore Girls, and the fact that Rory Gilmore reminds me increasingly of my stepsister, who has a bunch of Golden Retrievers. Or it was the tacos talking.

Taco Bell

The Taco Bell experience described at so reminded me of the fun I have with them. I left a comment there about it. If I go to the drive thru, they absolutely can never get the quantity right, even if there is no aural similarity between what I say and what they imagine they hear. I go inside every time now. Or, as these past two days, make yummy tacos at home.

The Case For Liberation

I don't believe I have ever seen it put better than in this James Taranto speech.

Wednesday, March 05, 2003


Well, it appears the duplicate went away as soon as my post complaining about it went through. Naturally.

As for Girl Scout Cookies, which apparently is a hot topic, I must confess:
I bought 14 boxes of them this year.

But I am not a total glutton. Five boxes remain, and I haven't touched them in weeks. Once I get through the initial throes of impulsive cookie demolition, I have fine self-control. Plus I did share.

Who knows what might have happened if I had known one of my nieces was also selling them, in addition to the daughters of a client and a partner. I might have exploded under the strain of too much cookie goodness.


Blogger is weird. The problems w.bloggar has with it when I use it at work are weird.

I wrote the parody on Girl Scout Cookies in w.bloggar and got an error posting it as usual, but it got through no matter what it implied. Oops, forgot to give Gnome-Girl credit for inspiring me. Added that.

So now there are two posts, one corrected and one not. I go to the Blogger interface, delete the extra post, and on Blogger it is gone. Only the correct one remains. Yet when I bring up the page, nothing changes. No matter how many refreshes. No matter what computer I go to. Despite the passage of time.

Worse, the archive links for both the correct and deleted posts go to... the deleted post! That is so clever. I can only hope that it fixes itself with the passage of a bit more time.

Ashcroft Urges New Crackdown On Pushers

Today Attorney General John Ashcroft announced a new crackdown in the government's war on addictive substances. "Temptation will not be tolerated," he said at a press conference. "Substances that are addictive or stimulating in nature must be kept from the hands of the braying masses for their own safety. It is in that spirit that we announce that sales of Girl Scout Cookies will no longer be tolerated. This applies not only to eliminating hardcore thin mints, but even entry level cookies such as shortbread and lemon pastry. These are clearly gateway substances that lead people to hard core cookie consumption."

As a result of this crackdown, Girl Scout Cookie prices are expected to skyrocket even beyond their currently excessive levels. An ACLU spokesperson expressed outrage over the decision, stating "what's next, criminalization of chocolate?"

(Inspired by Gnome-Girl)

Tuesday, March 04, 2003


Backspace keys should be wide. I know I am not alone when I express that opinion. Hitting backspace four times should not result in the offending four unwanted characters plus \\\\. It should result in the demise of the typographical detritus. Let's start with that assertion fact.

Most keyboards have piddly little backspace keys, so I find myself keeping an eye out for ones lacking that flaw. Otherwise we may as well go back to ^H for backspacing. One of my suppliers has just such keyboards. Woohoo! So I ordered a couple of them, in USB because they lacked PS/2 style at the time.

Some people love a traditional, large Enter key. It's nice, but I don't really care. This keyboard has one of those, which takes up three standard key spots on two rows. Below Enter and to the right of the right shift key is the pipe and backslash key (| and \). The right shift is a little narrow, but no biggie as I use the left almost exclusively. I believe that's not uncommon.

So far so good. I won't even go into the way the designer of the keyboard felt the need to put a power, sleep and wake up button where print screen, scroll lock, and pause/break belong, moving down the insert, delete, home, end, page up, and page down keys, and causing minor havoc there. Oh wait, I just did.

Why, oh why, except through unchecked design insanity and neglected usability testing, would there be any reason to put a second pipe/backslash key, to the right of the left shift key, shrinking left shift down nearly to standard key size to make room for the anomaly. Duplicate a key seldom used? Shrink a key constantly used except by SHOUTERS and e.e. cummings wannabes?

So now instead of typing things like "spellign\\ng errosr\\rs" I type things like "\i live in \massachusetts." Caps lock, which was foolishly located in the first place in lemming-like designicide, is even easier to hit unintentionally.

Or perhaps my fingers are just plain too large and clumsy. I know I never imagined I'd be able to type on the order or 40 WPM, with good reasons too extensive to go into in this post. In any event, I won't be buying any more of these keyboards.

We Have A Secular Constitution

I received one of those e-mails that fly around in righteous indignation to one thing or another. In this case it's the court ruling that affirms "separation of church and state" in the form of the government not being able to require the words "under God" to be uttered as part of the Pledge of Allegiance.

The e-mail shows a picture of two children praying to a flag, and reads beneath it as follows:

"It is said that 86% of Americans believe in God. Therefore I have a very
hard time understanding why there is such a mess about having 'In God We
Trust' on our money and having God in the Pledge of Allegiance. Why don't
we just tell the 14% to shut up and sit down????

If you agree, pass this on, if not delete.."

So people who agree with the first amendment should shut up and sit down? Who do these people think they are; Chirac? Hussein? Bin Laden? Do people who fling these things around the internet stop to think about what they are saying or promulgating?

Frankly, I think there's no real harm in having the phrase in the pledge, but nobody should be required to say it should they prefer not for any reason. It does, otherwise, get into tricky territory with respect to " law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof...." Just because a ruling, or a result of interpreting the constitution correctly, is unpopular does not make it wrong.

Ultimately, if the Supremes uphold this, the real recourse would be for the offended parties to propose an amendment repealing, more explicitly defining, or otherwise obviating that element of the first amendment as currently written and logically interpretable. Perhaps Nehemiah Scudder can be spokesperson for the cause.


Oh man, I visited HaloScan and they are not accepting newbies either. Sheesh.


Not that anyone is actually reading this yet, but I have begun thinking about adding a comments feature; you know, like most of the other blogs have. I just looked at YACCS, but they say they are accepting no new accounts. I kind of liked their style, too. Darn.

We'll see what I can come up with, but for now e-mail me if you care to comment. For instance, with suggestions of which comment system I'd be best off choosing.


Please bear with me if I make any spelling errors or goofy typos in my posts. I almost never run spell checking in e-mail, which this reminds me of, because there are few errors. Usually I notice a word doesn't look right as soon as I type it, and if I am uncertain, I'll check that word. There are certain words this always happens with, none of which come to mind offhand. I've been called a walking dictionary many times. Such confidence can lead to sloppiness. Sloppiness leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to... oh wait, this isn't a movie. Sloppiness leads errors that I was too confident to notice. But it's only words, and words are all I have, to write this blog today.

Given the above, it might sound strange that I love having good dictionaries around, and is a favorite site of mine. Old dictionaries are also cool. I have a couple of them from early in the last century. (It still seems strange to me to say the last century and not mean the 1800s.) Words, meanings, flow, and shifts in sounds and meanings are fascinating.


Well, it's not exactly a blogiversary as others have been celebrating lately, after a year of blogging, but I'm coming up on my first week tonight. I really had no idea how it'd go, what or how much I would post, and whether I'd find too little time or take too much time at it. So far it seems fairly balanced. There are things I thought I'd already have written about that are commentaries yet to come. Stay tuned...

Monday, March 03, 2003

Surreal Spam

I'm still getting regular spam selling Symantec products and Russian women, as well as the usual enlargements, enhancements, etc. Today I received a new one. Two copies at once, of course, from so it's easy to block further instances (of which there was one as I typed; great timing).

Why is it surreal? It is for a "keyword search from the toolbar" program. Here's why it's so surreal:

Once upon a time, a bunch of us who did VB support said "hey, we can do better than most of the 'developers' who call for support" and decided to start a business. With total lack of planning and agreement, no capital, and too many of us, it was initially more like a club. Nonetheless, we started creating a cool utility program we knew certain people, developers and otherwise, could use. I had in mind to approach Microsoft to package it with MSDN and Access.

Another company approached us about subcontracting on a project, which sounded exciting though we were skeptical. It was to be a search engine/redirector that would act as an add-in to do keyword searches from the address bar of Internet Explorer and, ultimately, Netscape Navigator. The guy behind it was hot for the idea, and was supposedly backed by major industry players. The concept was that a URL was too alien and unwieldy for most people. Companies would buy keywords and promote them during commercials, for info or special offers. Typing in the right keyword(s) would do a quick search and redirect the user to a page on the advertiser's site.

We were skeptical, and absolutely reluctant to do it for too little or for air castle promises. Yet we got sucked into creating a proof of concept DLL, which we were able to demonstrate for the people contracting us and the end customer to show it could in principle be done, but without actually giving them the DLL or the code involved. They handed over a server with a gigabyte of RAM, when that much RAM was almost unheard of, fo some preliminary testing. We were able to emulate what the program might do and hit a SQL Server on that prospective web server at an insane rate with no measurable drag to performance. The idea was that a commercial running during the Superbowl and making a special offer to the first N people who hit the site the keyword would reach would generate hundreds of thousands of hits in minutes.

Anyway, it worked just fine in preliminary form, and we were ready to consumate an official agreement when the customer's money ran out, so nothing ever came of it. I always wondered if Real Names and the customer were one and the same, but that was not the case, and apparently Real Names was already close to prime time at that point. The whole episode seriously derailed our efforts on the program we'd originally set out to create, arguably causing it never to be released, and was a divisive dstraction.

Be that as it may, to this day I associate search from the address bar, which Microsoft defaults to themselves in IE of course, with that little adventure. And that is why the spam is so surreal, apart from it's promoting a concept whose time in my perception has come and gone.

Those Silly Quizes

Late last night I stumbled upon an entirely different "how evil are you" test. I am 31% evil; borderline, which I guess fits nicely with the neutral rating from the other one.

Argh. Looks like w.bloggar is getting nothing but errors back when trying to post.

Those Silly Quizes

Late last night I stumbled upon an entirely different "how evil are you" test. I am 31% evil; borderline, which I guess fits nicely with the neutral rating from the other one.


It's distressing when you wake up a half hour after the time for which the alarm was set, and it is emitting no sound. Bad enough I am a heavy morning sleeper who often sleeps all the way through the alarm. Perversely, I often wake up at the instant the alarm stops, after it's yelled at me to get up for an hour, because of the abrupt change in what I am not hearing.

Did I fail to push the button? Nope, it's down. What's the deal!?

Oh, that again! I am on PM and the alarm is on AM. Duh! Must have managed that last time the power went out. Since it's indicated by an obscure LED dot and I can never remember which state means AM and which PM, easy mistake. If the power would blip off a little less frequently...


Okay, I've added all my first links to the blogroll and removed the original links from the blog template. Now to start adding the vast array I have accumulated in the course of being a blog-reading addict.


I added several links when I started out, but have now decided to try creating a blogroll, which is a more automated list of links. This is courtesy of, and this post is partially a test post to force my template to update. Then I'll have to do it again when I delete the original links and do any tweaking I find is required.

Sunday, March 02, 2003

Those Silly Quizes

Here I go again, taking those silly online quizes. I took "what kind of boyfriend are you" and got:

You're Prince Charming, A Knight In Shining Armor,
Etc... You are sensitive, caring,
compassionate, chivalrous, affectionate, &
would be a lucky catch for any girl.
Congratulations on being one of the few good
guys out there! Now maybe you could give all
your friends lessons?

What kind of boyfriend are you?
brought to you by Quizilla

So now you know ladies.

Amusingly, before I got to the boyfriend quiz, I took one that I didn't know when I started it was directed at women. So for what my appearance reveals about me I got:

"You're a Moon babe: A guarded exterior protects your sensitive and emotional nature, so you don't often share your deepest feelings. You've got a great memory, a wild imagination, and keen intuition. You put your trust in these qualities rather than in what you're learning in school. Though you're tight with your fam, you still need to retreat from them on occcasion. Your amigas mean a lot to you, and you'd do anything any of them asked you to without needing to know why. But you tend to lecture them at times instead of just being their friend. When a bud talks behind your back, you hold a grudge for months. Your feelings for a special someone can run deep. But since you've been burned before, you tend to steer clear of potential relationships. Some guys figure that you're just playing hard to get, so they keep on coming back to drink in more of your ultra-feminine ways"

Well, one of friends always tells me "you're such a girl."

The whole associated list is at

Which Breakfast Club character am I:

You are Allison (Ally Sheedy) the basketcase.
Sometimes you feel like you're invisible to the
world. All you want is for someone to love you
& pay attention to you. You're sad because you
think the world is a cruel place. Try to
lighten up. Surround yourself with happy people
& try to enjoy life. Just because you feel
everyone else's heart is dead doesn't mean
yours has to die too. Oh & SMILE!

Which Breakfast Club character are you?
brought to you by Quizilla

Looks like that's all for now.

Or not. I took the "What does your future hold" quiz and neglected to add the result:

Creativity: One thing's for sure- no one would call
you ordinary! You've got loads of imagination,
& your friends never get bored hanging out with
you since you're always coming up with wild
ideas. There's no doubt you'll make use of your
fierce talent in the future, whether you're
painting a masterpiece, writing a novel, or
covering your fave bands for a magazine.

What does your future hold?
brought to you by Quizilla


Mrs. du Toit has a topic going on libertarianism. One of these days I'll post about my thoughts and experiences with respect to that.

This Cold War Timeline is kind of cool.