July 1999 Archives

Brace yourselves - this is going to be a biggie. I’ve been ‘backed up’ for over a week, and even though I wasn’t posting, I was still bookmarking and note-taking for a good portion of that time. Since some of these bookmarks are a week old, I can’t remember if I found this stuff myself, or saw it on another ‘blog. Apologies in advance to those I’m inadvertently plagerizing.

First, a bit of biographical stuff: My hiatus last week was so I could go to my ten year high school reunion (back in Kansas). My wife and I had a good time; I got to see several people that I hadn’t seen in quite a while. I also drank quite a bit more than I’ve been accustomed to. 8^)=. We had about 15 people from a class of 26 (very small rural school; different story) show up, so it was fairly successful in that sense also.

Before I left town, I got to experience one of the worst home disaster things that I think can happen: Wednesday last, my wife and I were watching that night’s Tour stage, prior to packing. Our plane was to leave at 8:50 am the next morning. We heard some gurgling from the bathroom…which turned out to be the sewer backing up though the toilet. I had gotten up to check the noise, and I just stood there, unable to do anything, watching the brown tide advance towards the carpet. Overall, not a good night, and basically the only plus was that we rent, so we didn’t have to pay for the emergency plumber or the emergency carpet cleaning.

Speaking of the Tour, congratulations to Lance Armstrong. In addition to the cancer survivor angle (discussed in

Nando Times and ), Lance had a marvelous, beautiful ride, despite the spoil sport French sports press.

The Siteminer search box in the right margin appears to be working now. Let me know if there are any problems, or if it’s at all useful.

List of links to add to the Daily Dose:

Feel free to mail me with more; reworking the Daily Dose page is on the list for this weekend.

Joined the new Play music club (or rather, rejoined Columbia House but no longer have to send in those damn cards); got the big CD shipment today. I now have enough Replacements disks to fill my 5 disk CD player, which is a Very Good Thing. The All for Nothing/Nothing for All 2 disk comp is excellent. From the insert booklet thingie:

This isn’t a greatest hits disc because, well, there weren’t really any hits. Okay, “I’ll Be You” did pay a brief visit to the Top 40 and the video was shown on MTV during the average person’s working hours. But this is really a collection of would-have been, could-have-been, should-have-been hits, the tunes that some cooler radio stations played or thought about playing or were begged - by us - to play.

Above from Michael Hill, the comp producer. Below, John Rzeznik of the Goo Goo Dolls:

In 1991 we got the opening slot on the final Replacements tour, about 10 shows. It was the last show and I saw Paul backstage before we played. He thanked us for doing the tour and told me there was a little extra money for us at the end of the night. I remember thinking to myself, “What a great guy.” Then we went to do our set. We got on stage which was blacked out, and then realized that Paul and the guys had covered the stage with sticky backstage passes, gummy side up. Hundreds of them, all over the stage. Obviously, we didn’t see them in time. We were barefoot and we had these huge wads of sticky paper stuck to our feet. It looked like Robby and I had snowshoes on. And I remember thinking to myself, “What a bastard.” I think that’s what made them great - they were half saints-half bastards

I saw a show on that tour, in Iowa City. Good show.

Other notable disks include Superchunk’s On the Mouth and Depeche Mode’s Singles 86-99. (Salon reviewed the Merge tenth anniversary show the other day…)

The Open Source/Open Science kids are having a logo contest, so all you Gimp wizards get busy.

Food for thought: Jorn Barger of Robot Wisdom has a page elaborating on his design philosophy/methodology. I need to start thinking about a re-design for GeneHack; I’ll probably swing back towards minimalistic for awhile, just for kicks. Any suggestions?

If you have trouble remembering the URL for this site, you can also find me at genehack.web.com. You’ll have to look at their little banner doohicky, but hopefully my content makes up for that.

Into the ‘Read at Leisure’ file: The Misanthropic Bitch

Friends don’t let friends code in Perl. (It’s apparently too late for me; I’ve been sucked into the Dark Side. Of course, we call it ${… [That’s Perl humor; ignore it if you don’t get it])

Gengineering news: Hacked trees that have less lignin (a protein that makes trees ‘woody’) allow more environmentally friendly paper-making. As a bonus, the hacked trees grow faster than normal trees. Concerns of environmental groups are mentioned, but not elaborated on; I’d be concerned about the hacked trees outgrowing normal trees. There are large parts of the food web that make a living off eating lignin (and other proteins) from dead trees; the hacked trees could have effects there.

The US government threw around some FUD about strong crypto today, while Mike Godwin hopes Cryptonomicon educates the general population as to why crypto is a Good Thing.

One reason crypto is a Good Thing is so you don’t have to worry about crap like this. (Ny Times link; free reg. req.)

Finally, on Slashdot, a sizeable article about electronic publishing in the biosciences, one of my recent pet subjects. Haven’t had time to read it yet, but it seems as if the author is advocating a Slashdot-like public ‘peer’ review system, something I advocated back in June.
Nice to know somebody listens…8^)=

I spoke too soon. Apparently I’m going to be giving lab meeting on Thursday, which means that most of the stuff that’s backed up due to the hiatus is going to stay backed up for the next couple more days. Sorry…

Here’s one link that should keep you busy for quite a while: Neal Stephenson’s ‘hacker tourist’ opus from Wired: Mother Earth Mother Board. While on break, I started re-reading Cryptonomicon. It’s holding up well; Stephenson’s prose is still able to send shivers down my spine. Highly, higly recommended, but you already knew that, didn’t you?

Well, I’m back. Not quite a week; I had actually thought we weren’t getting back until tomorrow. Updates should resume sometime tomorrow, possibly morning, but more likely sometime in the evening. My new ergo (split design) keyboard arrived; all typos are due to that…

GeneHack is going on hiatus for about a week. Today’s update is a bit larger than normal, so if you think you can’t get by without my trenchant insights for a whole week, ration yourself. (And contact your friendly neighborhood mental health professional, fer the love of gawd!) While I’m gone, consider perusing some of the other ‘blogs listed on my Daily Dose (recently updated with some new faves), or on Brig’s monster weblog portal.

Whew! I had to visit Brig’s portal (to get the link, ‘natch), which I hadn’t seen in quite a while. That’s some list! I can almost feel the time being sucked out of my body…

Thanks to Dan Lyke of Flutterby! and Carl Coryell-Martin (apparently web-site-less) for letting me know that CHI=’Computer-Human Interaction’.

I seem to be wandering across more music news than usual this week. I found a poll about Fugazi’s best album, which people should have a go at. In on the Kill Taker is winning, but there are only 15 votes at the moment.

While cruising around indiePOPradio yesterday, I found my way to a page of free mp3s by Matador Records artists. the yo la tengo cut is cool.

I also (finally) downloaded the mp3s of Idiot Savant Garde, the band featuring Jason of Bring the Rock. Secret Stars is nice; worth a listen if you’re into that indie/emo/punk thing.

Feeding pigs gengineered grains cuts down on environmental pollution resulting from manure, and reduces the stink. The environmental impact from large pig and cattle feeding operations is one of the few arguments for large-scale vegetarianism that I find compelling.

Salon reports that one of the cast members in the most recent Road Rules season (Abe) hacked the production company, in order to more effectively socially engineer his way onto the cast. If you read all the way to the fourth page, there’s an interesting tangential overlap with the ‘slut’ series of articles that’s headlining today. Also, I wonder if the title of the hacking piece was the inspiration for the Cliche Watch on today’s Robot Wisdom

Ian Davis of Internet Alchemy has a new ‘meta-portal’ project, called The Web Starts Here (cool name!). It’s worth a look; I’m not generally a fan of these types of sites (e.g., my.userland.com, or the ‘sideboxes’ on slashdot.org), but this one loads nicely (even over a modem) and has a lot of interesting content to offer.

For example, from the BBC Science channel, I found a nice article about sequencing Pyrococcus abyssi, an extremophilic deep-sea vent bacterium. The industrial possibilities of extremophile enzymes really are astounding. For example, PCR (the polymerase chain reaction), the process behind DNA fingerprinting, modern paternity tests, genetic screening, and other advances, is dependent on a DNA polymerase from extremophiles.

From some ‘blog or another, I found my way to Electric Sheep, a comic e-zine. The Guy I Almost Was hit a bit close to home, in the ‘There but for the grace of God’ sense. I’ve got the site bookmarked so I can go back and check out the rest of the content.

Liberty Bell 7 was recovered. I’m glad that they didn’t find the hatch; the ‘true story’ is something we really don’t need to know at this point.

Salon has an interview with Buzz Aldrin, who’s apparently pushing tourism in order to get industry to invest in space. If money was no object, I’d be the first to sign up. As it is, I’ll be buying those lottery tickets, if and when they become available.

Is the Site Miner search box in the margin working for anybody? It doesn’t for me, but I’m thinking (hoping) that it’s a Javascript bug with the LinuxPPC Netscape. I haven’t had time to check it on other platforms. Search for ‘camworld’, and let me know if it returns results. If it says the site is being indexed, don’t bother — that’s what it always does for me.

Site Meta Trivia: GeneHack comes up first in this AltaVista search for ‘Sangamon’s Principle’.

email fun: Top 12 things likely to be overheard if you had a Klingon Programmer
For the record, I’m not a Trekkie. Well, not a hard core Trekkie. Okay, I’ve seen every episode of the original series, but I couldn’t ever get into any of the newer ones. There, are you happy now? Geez.

Happy Moon day. Now, could we hurry up and get to Mars?

On all the design geek ‘blogs (you know who you are), I keep seeing references to ‘CHI’, which (apparently) is an acronym for some design methodology or philosophy or something. What does that stand for?

pillowfight has an interview with Ian MacKaye of Fugazi. In other indie music related news, impression has an article about Merge and Matador, two indie labels that are both turning 10 this year. For even more music stuff, get thee to bring the rock! bring it, baby, bring it!

This week is the 30th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon shot. I’m sure you’ll be sick of it before it’s all over (assuming the tributes aren’t drowned out by the John-John thing), but I found this Fox News article quite interesting. It discusses the technological impact of the Apollo program on current everyday life — and lots more than Tang is discussed. Lots of potential fodder for when the chuckleheads ask you what good it did to go to the Moon, ‘just to bring back some rocks’.

(For the record, I’m with Dan on the John-John thing. I just don’t get it; from talking to a couple of people, it seems like an age thing.)

The NY Times uses the Moon shot anniversary to question NASA’s future (free registration required). I’m with Heinlein on this one; “The Earth is too small a basket to keep all our eggs in…” (somebody correct me if I got that wrong, eh?).

Late last week, Salon had a couple of articles on the polyamory movement: Number one and number two. I’m very intrigued by the polyamorists; it appears that The Moon is a Harsh Mistress may be even more prophetic than expected. (You were wondering how I was going to tie NASA to polyamory, weren’t you? Didn’t think I could pull it off, but I did!) Unfortunately, as described in article number two, outting yourself as a polyamorist might lead to some un-desired consequences. (Which was also predicted in tMiaHM, as I recall.)

Finally, down under, one of my fave ‘blogs, virulent memes, is going on hiatus. Guess I’ll just have to make do with Grouse.

My phone lines are back up, for the moment. Apparently lots of lines around Tucson had small cracks opened by the recent heavy weather, allowing water into places where it shouldn’t be. Once the lines dry out, the problems go away…until the next rain. Damn, but it’s getting to be time for me to move!

More phone problems. US Worst came out, couldn’t find a problem, and left. They’ve generously agreed to come back in a week or so.

Today’s links should make sense given that context:

- <a href="http://usworst.com">USWorst.com</a>
- <a href="http://usworst.org">USWorst.org</a>
- (usworst.net is squatted, but not serving)
- (uswestsucks.com is squatted, but not serving)
- <a href="http://uswestsucks.org">USWestSucks.org</a>
- <a href="http://uswestsucks.net">USWestSucks.net</a>
- <a href="http://uswestsucks.tinypenis.com/">USWestSucks.tinypenis.com</a> - my personal favorite

As you can probably tell, I was pissed enough that I was thinking about grabbing a domain name or two, but I’ve been beaten to it.

At work today, I was digging the mellow indie sounds offered over indiePOPradio.com. Streaming mp3 content, which means you don’t have to dink with getting Real Audio to work on your Linux box (which I’m seemingly unable to do). You do have an mp3 player, right?
Link found on Bring the Rock, which is a long-overdue addition to the Daily Dose.

Speaking of link lists, I signed up for LinkVision, which is a bookmark service like those I mentioned yesterday. I like it a bit better, and the kids there have passed the most important test — they replied to my comments and questions rather quickly, and were receptive to my input. Yee haw! Plus, Brig of eatonweb is publishing her weblog portal as a public folder. Sweet!

Ginkgo is supposed to help with blood flow to your head. Turns out that it might work for the other head, too.

In the latest Nature, there’s a short news blurb about EMBO (the European Molecular Biology Organization) backing the electronic paper repository idea advanced by the head of the NIH. However, sounds as if there are still quite a few details to work out, including whether or not peer review is going to be involved. Here’s a link, but a non-free subscription is required to view the content. If you’re on a university network, give it a try; your school might have a site subscription.

Jenni of Cam fame rants about money. I’m not a frequent visitor to the JenniCam, but her recent mystery illness has sucked me in.

Spider Robinson has started up his Globe and Mail column again. Spider’s one of my favorite authors; it’s nice to see some non-fiction from him.

Salon reviews the Merge 10th anniversary comp. One of these days, when I’ve got some money (yah, right!), I really need to get to the record store…

Still no update; waiting for US West to restore phone service. Vim over telnet is ok for these notices, but not for full updates (it’s also difficult to surf with no modem 8^(= ). Phone is supposed to be restored tomorrow….

GeneHack will be updated later tonight or early tomorrow. Sorry for the lack of updates; I’ve been sick on and off for about a week, and I finally crashed.

Lots of people are pointing at stories about perl-based ballot-box stuffing in the MLB All-Star selection. I haven’t seen anybody point out that this wasn’t Just Another Perl Hacker, but Chris Nandor, co-author of MacPerl: Power and Ease. Apparently in his ballot spoofing efforts, Chris focused on Ease instead of Power, and was caught.

Mondo short update; big storm (again - love that monsoon season!) playing with the phone lines. I need to upload this while the connection holds. More tomorrow, barring Biblical-scale events.

Long but very good article about the pluses and minuses of gengineered plants:

Looming behind the ecologists’ fears is the belief that molecular biologists who work with DNA on the laboratory bench don’t understand fully how it behaves in the field. According to Rosemary S. Hails of the British National Environmental Research Council’s Institute of Virology and Environmental Microbiology, “The risk assessment of transgenic organisms is a multidisciplinary subject, which should include ecologists, molecular biologists, agronomists and sociologists.” Instead, companies tend to delegate decisions about the release of transgenic crops to molecular biologists-who are not trained to appreciate the full complexity of how the genetic code interacts with environmental factors.

I think I saw this originally on Robot Wisdom

Open Source/Open Science will focus on (duh) the use of Open Source software in science. One of the scheduled threads is about biology; I hope it’s more than ‘How Perl Saved the Human Genome Project’.

With my new digital cable hookup, I now get ZDTV, and can now safely say that John Dvorak on television is even more of an ass than John Dvorak in print. Katie Hafner (Cyberpunks,Where the Wizards Stay Up Late), on the other hand, is actually quite interesting. Rather, she could be, if Dvorak would keep his pie hole shut long enough for her to make a complete point.

Ever wanted to know what’s on those word-filled cards that flash by at the end of Dharma & Greg? This site can help.

Everybody in the ‘blog world seems to be really digging the saturn.org design. I dig it too, but one thing puzzles me: how come Netscape on my 96 MB RAM Linux box has to start swapping when I visit there? It’s very odd, but as that page is loading, Netscape starts sucking up all available memory. Happens on my 128 MB RAM work box also. Maybe tomorrow I’ll check out what happens on the Macs and Wintels around the lab.

Seems like everybody is still struggling back from the long weekend…

Hope everyone had a nice holiday weekend; I spent the majority of the last 72 hours doped up on cold medication, running a fever, and generally not in a coherent state. I came out of it just in time for a major thunderstorm, which almost removed the roof from my (rental, thankfully) house. There’s nothing quite like climbing around a roof in high winds and lightening, swinging a hammer.

I haven’t been participating in Userland’s discussion forums, but occasionally a interesting message gets posted there.

Short update; I’m going to take a prophylactic shot of Nyquil and hit the sack. Tomorrow’s probably going to be a long day…

First Australia, now here. I feel an overwhelming need for a button that reads ‘Keep Your Laws Off My Internet Presence’.
via Librarian.net

Objects in Bioinformatics ‘99 looks like an interesting little get together for the geekier parts of the bioinfo crowd.

Hopefully this weekend I’ll have a chance to try to get dial-on-demand PPP working on my home Linux box.

Yet more ‘blog-rolling: Screenshot and saturn.org, coming soon to a Daily Dose near you.

Deanna’s Internet Treasure Box goes into the ‘Read at Leisure’ bookmark file.
via Internet Alchemy

Digital cable finally got hooked up today. Lots of eye candy and gee-whizness. I think my favorite feature is the ability to use the guide feature to check out what’s on other channels, without actually having to channel surf.

I think I’ve fixed the background/foreground color issues for the site; mail me with any problems.