Taking the night off to hack on the XEmacs website; should be back tomorrow.
November 1999 Archives
Well, this is the latest GeneHack revision; hopefully it doesn’t cause browsers to go down in flames or anything. Once I get a chance to check out the rest of the site in a couple additional browsers at work, I’ll be moving everything over to this look, but for now it’s only on the front page. Comments to email@example.com will be received gratefully.
The Geeksalad Comic Page might be useful for you comics junkies on fat pipes (warning: many large images; modem users proceed with caution…) The *nix types out there might prefer TkComics, which is a tool to grab only the comics you want.
If you’re just getting started with Emacs or XEmacs, the very unofficial .emacs home will be very useful. If you’re an Emacsen expert, you still might pick up a trick or two for customizing your setup — and if you’re not going to customize it, why bother with it? 8^)=
Yet another personality type page; this one relates the Myers-Briggs types (INTJ, ENTP, etc.) to descriptions of psychopathologies from the DSM-IV. I’m not sure if this indicates low levels, or tendencies, etc., but it’s sort of fun.
This will be useful — an open sourced book about using CVS. Cool; I’m pretty sure I’ll be involved in at least one CVS setup real soon now, and maybe two, so I should get on the stick and read this.
RMS talks about some proposed changes to British law. Scary stuff, especially given what happened in .au last week. Stuff like this is why I’m hoping Bradley gets to make a serious run — Tipper’s history in this area is frightening, McCain has historically been a opponent of strong crypto, and Dub-ya’s just hopeless.
www.bookcloseouts.com Must. Not. Spend. Money.
After a couple of relaxing days of vacation, I’m rapidly getting back into my bad habits. This is going to be a long, long week.
Color laser printers suck, but the Xerox DocuPrint C55 at my work-place sucks harder and longer than most. Three hours to print a measly 41 pages. Wouldn’t have been nearly so bad, but I had to power cycle the thing. After. Every. Print. Job. Of course, given a malf like that, the printer just had to be on another floor, stuck in the most out-of-the-way possible corner. Grrr.
On the good news tip, my manuscript will be departing tomorrow. Yay!
A couple of quickies before I collapse into bed:
The real question is what effect cracking down on “cyber-slacking” would have on ‘blog production levels…
To the idea that students will graduate into a world of ubiquitous computing, he says, “Automobiles are everywhere, too. They play a damned important part in our society and it’s hard to get a job if you can’t drive. … But we don’t teach automobile literacy.”
Hrm. Seems I must have imagined taking Driver’s Ed in eight grade.
If you’ve got ZDtv, and you’re curious to see what Cliff looks like, turn it on for a couple of hours. There are these public-service-announcement-like mini-rants called “Cliff’s Notes”. (He looks about like you’d figure he does.)
Domain name madness. Well, just.say.no doesn’t exist, but say.no does. I’m a bit disappointed about that.
Come back tomorrow for the big Turkey Day update, chock full of goodness.
Even more revised revision. This is going to become the new GeneHack look Real Soon Now, so speak up if you’ve got a display problem in your browser of choice. I’ll be doing final compatibility checks today, but it should be pretty clean.
The National Research Council says exobiologists should start thinking about Europa, and recommends that NASA put Europan missions on equal footing with Martian ones.
Wendy Kaminer, author of Sleeping with Extra-Terrestrials, talks about the spread of the irrational in America in this interesting Atlantic interview:
When you consider the convergence of celebrity culture, pop therapies, new technologies, and all the anxious supernaturalism that’s been aroused by the approach of the year 2000, public life in America has become so much weirder than I ever imagined it could possibly be that what once might have seemed surreal, now is merely mundane.
Yet another cool keyboard. I’ve found that my wrists are getting much better, which I credit to the wrist braces I started wearing when they began to really hurt. The vitamins probably didn’t hurt, either.
How important is one percent? Well, when it’s the one percent difference between the genetic makeup of humans and chimps, it’s probably at least a little bit important.
Well, I’ve got a whole folder full of linkage — and a whole laundry list of other things I should get done. So, this is going to have to be it for the moment. Perhaps more later.
During an insanely busy weekend, I managed to squeeze in time to have coffee with Ben Wing, which was very cool. Hopefully I’ll have the time to rework the XEmacs website in the ways that we discussed in the near future.
I also am growing weary of the current GeneHack look, which inspired me make the color changes to this page, and to whip up this more extensive revision, which I’ll hopefully roll out soon. Big props to Brig, for some CSS to die for. Any comments or suggestions on the new look are welcome at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Most of the rest of the weekend was spent resuscitating a damaged Linux install, which I used as an excuse to repartition some disks to give me a bit more room here and there, and to upgrade to the most recent version of LinuxPPC. Everything appears to have gone moderately well, so I should be back up to speed for the rest of the week.
Well, I’ve made the big time. I feel so proud, yet so dirty.
Molly Ivins has another good piece up today. I wish I had US$201 to send Bill Kreml, and I don’t think South Carolina is going to make the short list of future places to live. (That link will probably break next week; does anyone know of a way to find permanent URLs for Molly Ivin’s columns?
Way back in April, I linked to this story, saying that the New Madrid fault (near St. Louis, MO) wasn’t as big as a risk as had been previously thought. Now, I link to this story, which says it is a huge risk. Any geologists out there care to comment?
The human genome project: a false dawn? Interesting overview of the reasons for sequencing the genome, some of the long-term benefits that may result, and some of the reasons why it might be more complicated than many people think. (In case anyone cares, I’m in the “it’s a start, but there’s still a lot left to do after the sequence is done” camp.)
Major Journals Join To Offer Online Service Linking Research. It’s difficult for me to interpret this as anything but a fright response brought on by the E-biomed proposal.
The FedGov wants to give cops some serious cash to encourage them to take and store DNA samples of just about anybody. (Well, anybody who’s committed a “crime” — like, say, failure to use a turn signal.) On a certain superficial level, this doesn’t seem all that different than storing fingerprints — but fingerprints don’t contain information about what diseases you might get in 10 years. Bad, bad idea.
Another one for the scary column: Option X:
Option X provides students with the ability to make decisions based on provided scenarios and their own personal convictions. A safe exploratory storyline allows students to critically examine their own perspectives regarding current issues. This in turn, empowers students to understand the importance of their beliefs and how it can effect society.
Brought to you, for only $39.95 by (no lie!) Catholic Software Canada, and The Redemptorist Bioethics Consultancy. <shudder>
Culled from SDM: The real reason behind SUV popularity.
DoubleClick is one of the major banner ad companies. They use a cookie to track what ads you’ve seen, ostensibly so that you “don’t have to see the same ad over and over”. The user tracking possibilities are a completely accidental byproduct. You can, however, opt out.
Well, I shouldn’t get sucked in, because I really don’t have the time, but over on MetaTalk, there have been some interesting ‘blog threads. I especially liked Nancy B’s post, 3rd from the end as I write this. Of course, I’m a navel-gazing ‘blog roller, so of course I’m in favor of people saying nice things about how hard this is.
Oh — and some of my limited stock of “shut the fsck up” bullets have been earmarked for the Gabby person who slagged off ‘blogs in general in most of the thread linked above, and Day Without Weblogs specifically in the (currently) last post. Get a grip, eh? Especially since, if Brad hadn’t put together DWW, and some ‘blogger had the cojones to darken their site on 12/01, Gabby would have been all over the poor sod. “Oh, look, they think they’re artists now…”. Pfeh. Bah.
And on that note…y’all have a good weekend. Don’t get hurt shopping for those Thanksgiving goodies… (Oh — site meta: Start pages were updated slightly.)
I distributed the “final unless $BIG_PROBLEMS” draft of my manuscript today. This means I’m mostly free (well, not really) until Monday. Catchup time!
Last night, I saw upon the stair,
a little man that wasn’t there.
What is it with all these personality type sites I’m running across? This one gets pretty harsh.
“Genetic testing makes things complicated” seems to be the conclusion of this Salon article. It touches on all the major issues of the debate(s) about genetic testing (with a particular focus on pre-natal testing), and places the concerns in the context of the American Eugenics movement earlier this century, but offers little insight into solutions.
The hard-core Perlers no doubt already know about this, but Randal “Learning Perl” Schwartz has an online archive of WebTechniques columns that he’s written. Lots of fun things, like fetching comics, file flocking, cookies, and all kinds of fun web Perl magic. Definitely a “peruse at length”.
The GM food debates are coming to America. This should be interesting. Remember, the question isn’t really “Do you want to see GM food”, it’s “How do you propose to feed six billion people without using GM food?”. Answering “It’s okay for those people, but not my kids” does not get you moral fiber points, BTW.
Here is the Wired cover I gushed about the other day. (~200 K .gif, and judging from a quick browse, that link will break in a month or so, so grab the file for printing now).
I’m pretty sure I’ve pointed to How to Write Unmaintainable Code before, but after that contract job fell through, I have a much deeper understanding.
Coming soon: Pharm animals.
It’s about 2:45 am as I write this; I’m finally home after 4 hours of fighting with a balky color laser printer. I should be in bed, but I can tell I’ve had too much caffeine for that, so I’m relaxing with an Anchor Steam Christmas and an update before I retire.
Brig is back from the dead. Her observation about job offers is interesting. In the past, I’ve noticed the same thing in relationships — members of the appropriate sex seem to find you much more interesting when you’re with someone than when you’re single.
Could the Patent Office get any more out of touch? Maybe we could start a collection and subscribe them to some news periodicals, or something.
Well, I thought I had some more links around here, but I can’t find them. Bookmark organization is high on the list of things that must be done. Maybe this weekend…
The December 1999 cover of Wired is fantastically gorgeous, in a mutant Maxfield Parish kind of way. I’ll love to have a large print of the cover, but I’m pretty sure it’s out of my current budgetary reach. A quick search failed to locate a home site for the photographer, James Porto, although I did find that he’s involved in several lawsuits. Anybody have a pointer to an archive of his work?
I’ve also somehow acquired a subscription to Upside; if one of you wacky kids out there had something to do with that, thanks. It looks to be at least as interesting as Wired.
Too much stuff to do! Taking a day off, but one of the things to do is an ePinion, so I’ll put up a link when that’s done (soon).
Big installfest this weekend. It was fun, but I didn’t really get any of the other things I needed to do done.
I think I’ll hang this cartoon up in the computer room at work today, just to see how long it lasts.
In this interesting interview at opensource.oreilly.com, the author of MySQL and mSQL talks about some of the advantages the open sourced engines have over commercial products, and offers some tricks and tips. The book is solid, especially if you’re an SQL newbie.
(The especially observant will note that I’m now an Amazon affiliate. I’m not expecting to get rich or anything, but that contract work didn’t work out [too much work from them, too little time from me], so I’m working on saving up some money for better hosting. Expect some Epinions in the near future.)
A nice short article about slime mold research, including a (very) short justification of why people are studying such an odd organism.
Well, I’ve still got some backlog, but it’s getting rather late, and I’ve got some other work to do, so I’m going to stop here. More tomorrow!
Humans less diverse than chimps. Interesting work, but it seems like they should be looking at more than one locus before making these claims. On the other hand, I know relatively little about this branch of biology.
Okay, all the ‘bloggers who have considered putting up a picture of
themselves, just to increase their chances of getting mentioned in
Bloat, raise your hand.
/me raises hand sheepishly. /me says, “I’ve even got a beard! I’m a shoe-in!”
Our NT server crashed an average of once every six weeks. Each failure took roughly 30 minutes to fix. That’s not so bad, until you consider that neither Linux server ever went down.
Last week, I linked to thehungersite.com at the suggestion of David Cohen. However, I erroneously linked to the thank you page, instead of the real link. Sorry ‘bout that, and thanks to David for pointing out my error.
Personal Meta: Whew! Mostly caught up on the mail side of the hole, except for one particular project. Thought I had more links to link, but can’t seem to find them. Should be completely back up to speed after this weekend, although the Installfest on Sunday could be a bit of a time sink. Hopefully I’ll get those ePinions finally written next week — I’m eager to go, but something else always seems to demand my attention.
It’s been a bad week. I dug myself into a bit of a hole, commitment- and time-wise, but things are starting to get a little bit better (slowly, slowly…). Anyway, no update for today, as I’m giving lab meeting (which I still have to finish writing — oy!), but I’ll be back shouting and kicking tomorrow.
Congratulations to Jeremy Nance, the first one of my classmates to finish up his doctoral work. Hopefully, it won’t be that much longer for me…
Greetings, Gentle Readers; this update is being brought to you by the 25th Anniversary Anchor Christmas beer, which became available in Tucson today. My wife and I have had this beer every year since we started dating; this will be the ninth bottle that we add to our collection. It’s not as obnoxiously spicy this year, but it’s definitely a heavy winter ale.
This could be hella useful for me: Online Journal and Diary Software for Emacs (Records Mode); now I just have to find time to learn how to use it…
Perl Mongers Career Center — for my possible future use.
Bump is working on a new look; dig the coffee cups.
Research shows that the “early to rise” part of the old saw actually makes you stressed out. Maybe this is my problem…or it could just be that I’m a bastard by nature.
I hate to seem like I’m always quarreling with the web heavyweights, but I think Jakob Nielsen missed the boat in the last Alertbox. I don’t want specialized applications for doing things; I want intelligent modular frameworks that can be expanded to meet my needs, within the same GUI. On an average day, I open three applications: Netscape, an xterm, and XEmacs (editing, news, and mail). I really don’t want to have to open anything more than that; I’ll make an exception for the Gimp and some games, but that’s about it. I’ll point out that a unified modular framework would also do a much better job at this:
When offering multiple interfaces, it is important that they feel like variations of a single system, even though they have different designs:
Does anybody else get nervous when they hear about the FBI watching fringe groups? Sure, they’ve got a decent sounding reason to be concerned, but given their track record…
Meta observation: You can tell when I start to get busy, because the number of science links goes down (those articles take longer to read and evaluate than the other stuff).
‘Blog meta: I’ve got more, but I think I’m going to hold on to them; the next couple of days are going to be busy, but I should be able to ration my links and make it through. 8^)=
Personal meta: Decided last week that it was quicker to order some payware to make plots, rather than futz around for days re-parsing data and figuring out how to make Gnuplot do new tricks. Payware still isn’t here; could have coded up gnuplot stuff by now. Yet another highly productive week in graduate school…
No update today — spent far too much time responding to mail. Back tomorrow with a full load of juicy linkage!
Wow, the weekend just flew by.
First off, Bring the Rock is back. Happy happy joy joy!
incidents, and others like them, are responsible for the bad taste
in my mouth whenever I hear somebody talk about ‘animal rights’. I
realize that not everybody in the movement is like the people
responsible for this latest outrage, but that doesn’t
Like the man said, “Death to all fanatics!”
Many people are pointing to John Scalzi’s Best of the Millennium!; I’m jumping on the bandwagon so that I’ll remember to crawl through the archived entries.
Contributed by a GeneHack reader: How Biological Molecules Move Electrons: Simplicity Trumps Complexity: It turns out that proximity is probably the major factor in the electron transport chains that keep life going. This is an interesting paradigm shift from the way I was taught it works.
That same reader requested that I plug the The Hunger Site. Everybody out there is already hitting that one once a day, right?
Lots of new entries on the ‘blog map. The geographical distribution is starting to get interesting; the Left Coast density was predictable, but check out all those dots in the northeast quadrent. ‘Sup with that?
Laziness is a Privacy Threat. Good things to think about for all you lucky DSL equipped people out there.
If you tried to mail me this weekend, it may have bounced. Basically, my ISP pulled a thinko; resend anything important, eh?
Personal Meta: Wow. I spent most of the weekend hacking on one thing or another; I feel like I got a lot done, but at the same time there’s a load of stuff I wanted to do that I didn’t even think about, much less work on. I might take a night or two off from ‘blogging to work on those ePinion pieces I’ve been promising for so long; I’ve also got a busy time coming up at work this week (Oh Great Ghu! I have to give lab meeting…ay yi yi…)
I just found out that my ISP had a mail server problem from ~10 pm Friday night to ~11 am Saturday morning. Mail sent to me (at either azstarnet.com or genehack.org) during that time period is gone, gone, gone, so if you sent me something, please re-send it. Thanks.
Steve Bogart has come up with a solution to the problem I have with Dave Winer’s web writing style. (See the archives for details on that.) Oh yes, and NowThis is back, at least for a day or so. (yay!)
Odd referrer hit: Marijuana. (No pun intended on the ‘hit’ tip…)
Interesting: But what does that gene do?
Now, a new breed of armchair genome analysts has come to the rescue, as is explained in Nature. Using ingenious computational techniques these analysts have assigned probable functions to more than half the new yeast genes — without leaving the comfort of their computer screens.
That sounds like my kind of job!
I’m still working on the clip2.com review. I did some comparison research on Blink this weekend, and I have to say it’s pretty slick. Hopefully that will be one of the many things I accomplish this weekend.
That’s it for today; too tired to do more. Everybody have a good weekend!
The Day The Browser Died: Or, what happens when web designers are just asked to put up with Too Much. An interesting and amusing, albeit annoyingly multi-paged read.
Salon has an interview with Simon Singh, author of the recent The Code Book. I especially liked the part that touched on the sudden eruption of the cryptography meme from the cultural hive-mind (see page 2 of the interview), although it’s a bit odd that Echelon isn’t mentioned at all. (Fnord!)
This is what it’s like to have major cred in the ‘blog world: You stop updating for a week or so, and people are so distraught, they start putting up parody sites to explain the absence. I mean, I miss Jason too, but damn!. (Fun lunch break game: Spot all the minor (“Get a life, nerd!”) changes Adam made to the template.)
Is an HIV gene the magic bullet to cure cancer? There are a couple of issues that I’ve thought of with the science, at least as it’s presented in the press release. I started a thread over on molbio.org to discuss them, so check it out over there if you’re interested.
The BT corn/butterfly flap continues.
The book review didn’t really do anything for me, but the design is gorgeous! (Although it looked better on the 1280x1024 at work than the 832x640 at home.)
Let’s see, you’re a scientist, working in a field with a major public relations issue. People tend to associate what you do with Dr. Frankenstein, some of the worst parts of Nazism, and playing $DEITY in general. So, when some patients in clinical trials die for what you think are issues completely un-related to your gene therapy treatments, what’s the most rational thing you could do? Why, try to cover the deaths up, of course. Yah, that’s a good plan.
Look! It’s a big ass dinosaur!
The species was among the last of the large dinosaurs. “This guy is an Edsel,” Cifelli said. “He’s an old design. By this time, that body plan is just not working anymore. By the time this guy comes along, they are dying out in North America. He is pretty much the last of his kind.”
Personal and To Do Meta Oh, Bog, where to start… Still have that cold, still sound like death, even though I’m feeling much better. Still have an impressively long list of things to do, but things are getting crossed off at about the same rate they get added, so it’s not getting longer, it’s just churning a lot. Hopefully this weekend…HAHAHA, I can’t believe that thought actually crossed my mind. I’m never getting caught up, and that’s…okay.
Via Cam, the story of how Randal L. Schwartz got convicted of crimes against Intel. It’s sad how little law enforcement has learned about computer crime issues in the last decade; some of the things Intel apparently did are right out of The Hacker Crackdown. (And yes, it’s that Randal Schwartz.)
Everybuddy is an attempt to combine an ICQ and AOL Instant Messenger client (And maybe one day every chat protocol in existance? Is that a big dream?) into a single, fairly coherent interface.
I never got the instant messaging thing. What am I missing?
Last night Dan sent me an email saying that I should tell my readers that his weblog didn’t give legitimacy to the art of weblogs. That’s his opinion. I am blown away by what Dan is doing there. For me, the question is resolved. Columnists at big newspapers can do this.
I agree with Dan. The adoption of the weblog form by mass media outlets isn’t a form of acceptance, it’s a form of assimilation. One of the (many) driving forces behind many of the early ‘blogs was a revulsion against the mass market forces attempting to homogenize the web into a 24 hour virtual mini-mall. The weblog was about elevating the voice of EverySurfer, to point out the hidden variety and beauty that still lurks here and there in the nooks and crannies. Dan Gillmor is most definitely not EverySurfer (he’s having “brief private chats” with Scott Friggin’ McNealy, for Ghu’s sake!), and it’s difficult to agitate against mass market homogenization with sidebar ads.
The wide spread of the ‘blogging meme means that there is a mass of people ready, willing, and able to do the things that Dan Gillmor does for a living, and to do them basically for free, for ego-boo, for the love of the craft. If I was Dan Gillmor, I’d be starting a ‘blog too, because that’s got to be preferable to burger flipping.
The above is all of course subject to the same caveat as anytime I link to Dave W’s stuff, namely that it might be different when you look at it. See this archived entry for details.
Whew! In other “famous people with ‘blogs” news, Mike “Factsheet Five” Gunderloy has a ‘blog now too. Even a small-Kansas-town-hickboy like myself remembers that Factsheet Five was the bible|voice|cultural nexus of the self-publishing/’zine/American samizdat movement that flourished in the ’80s. In many ways, the ‘zine scene (which I was only very peripherally involved with, as a reader) presaged ‘blogs and online journals. Mike also has GeneHack on his short list of other weblogs, which pretty much made my whole day. ‘Random chattiness’, indeed!
I am going to take issue with Mike’s comments on the bottom of that page:
There seems to be a tendency towards herd behavior in weblogs. One of them will mention some new article, and before you know it, the same link shows up five other places. I try not to do that, but sometimes I succumb. Still, it’s a bit puzzling to think that with hundreds of millions of web pages, and only a few hundred webloggers, we can’t all find out own unique pages to point out.
It’s not herd behavior, although it may look like that. The analogy that springs to my mind is more than a bit self-agrandizing, but bear with me. ‘Blog authors are serving the same function as chatty people at cocktail parties. We provide topics of interesting conversation, and generally prevent those awkward pauses from lasting too long. Every so often, however, we over-hear another interesting topic-setter say something that we want to talk about too, so we might direct the conversation in that direction. It’s still relevant to many of the people we’re talking to, because they might not be paying as much attention to the other conversation leaders. Some of them are flitting around, sampling many conversation groups, and those people might notice that certain topics tend to spread through out the crowd more widely than others. Even then, thought, I think the ‘flitters’ will see different nuances to the discussion in each separate group.
I’m not sure how good that last paragraph is, but I’m way too tired, so I’m just going to leave it. If I don’t make sense, and you’d like me to explain what the heck I was trying to say, mail me (email@example.com). Night.
Wired News interviews Bill Amend, the creative force behind FoxTrot. FoxTrot is one of the few strips I missed when I kicked the print newspaper jones, and finding the online version made me quite happy. I’m not too thrilled or disappointed with the site makeover, but some of the stuff on the second page of the interview makes me want to dig around the site a bit more than I have. I’m also wondering what a ‘blog done by Jason Fox would look like. Has anyone done a ‘blog as a fictional character would? Somehow, it seems as if Jorn would have already done this…
Ashley MacIsaac tries to sell fiddle for crack. I’m linking to this so I can point my wife at it. Hi honey! (Apologies to whoever I nicked that link from…)
Personal Meta: Good work days = bad ‘blog days. I finalized the manuscript and gave it to my advisor this afternoon, so hopefully that’s one little step closer to done. I’ve got to fight with Excel over plots tomorrow, and I’m thinking that it’s probably just as easy to actually purchase a dedicate plotting program. Anybody got anything to recommend for the Macintosh in the way of all-out plotting power?
To do meta: Got the Start pages worked over a bit; nothing else really got accomplished. Might have a crack at the mail archive spec, after I wash the dishes.