March 2001 Archives

we’re everywhere
Today’s Washington Post reports that Matt Drudge’s father has a weblog. (Well, they don’t call it that, but that’s what it is. Sort of.)

The Advogato diary has some personal stuff. Other than that, it’s been largely non-productive around here — work, work, sleep, repeat.

end of an era
Yet another non-Web-based database interface bites the dust as NLM retires Grateful Med.

editor comparison
Here’s an interesting Unix text editor overview, written by a long-time BBEdit user.

filched from rasfw
Some links stolen from rec.arts.sf.written:

First, it’s scary how much Jerry Pournelle’s site looks like a really poorly executed weblog.

Second, for you Heinlein fans out there, Robert A. Heinlein’s Second Future History attempts to make the case that the well-known Future History series actually represents two distinct sets of stories.

Elite - the new kind is a ground-up reverse engineering of the fabulous space flight/trading/shooting game. I played this on the Apple ][, back in the day; methinks I’m going to have to try to get this to build on my current system.

this is scary
Via the politechbot mailing list, Germany contemplates mandatory DNA testing. Potentially, 41 million people could be tested and typed. One of the many potential problems with this idea (ignoring the huge invasion of privacy issues) is that the economic value of such a databank is seriously non-trivial, and that relating the typing data to other sorts of data could be even more valuable.

sore throat key to cjd transmission?
This is interesting — a researcher at UCSD has hypothesized that inflammation and micro-tissue damage due to sore throat may be the key to how Creutzfeldt-Jacob is transmitted from infected beef to people.

the doomed cling on
Completely missing the impact of the Internet on traditional publishing models, a new nonprofit is offering cheaper journals. I’ve had “discussions” with several cow-orkers about this issue; my feeling is that the value added by publishing houses, in terms of paper publication, is minimal at best, and probably non-existent. I think they’re classic middlemen parasites, actually, and ripe for some sort of net-borne disintermediation. Based on the arguments, err, discussions mentioned above, however, this seems to be a minority view.

I also think that publishers do have a role to play, but it lies much more in noting quality papers and providing context for them, much like Nature does with its “News and Views” section. The issue is that the majority of the labor in the peer review process isn’t on the publishers’ end, but rather distributed across the scientists working in the community. That part of the business is going to be going away; I just hope it’s sooner rather than later.

remembering shannon
Claude Shannon recently passed. Without Shannon’s pioneering work in information theory, I wouldn’t be writing this, you wouldn’t be reading it, and the whole world would be a very different place. You can see some remembrances of Shannon from people who knew and interacted with him during his life, or you can add your own.

Coming off two days of downtime — some sort of viral thing knocked me on my ass. Timing could have been a bit better, but I don’t think I missed anything too crucial at work; I’m just two (or more) days behind. Actually, probably three days behind, because most of tomorrow is going to be taken up with assessing where I am on various projects and revising goals and such. And that, of course, is assuming I make it in — at the moment, I’m thinking I can do it, but we’ll have to see what the body says in the morning.

think of it as evolution in action
More news on the cloning front; it’s shaping up to be an interesting couple of years in the human reproductive sphere. Prediction: one of the loudest howls about this is going to involve the notion that people with reproductive problems are somehow “weakening the breed” by passing on their genes via these types of mechanisms.

geek gathering
Hey, anybody in the DC area going to the CMS evaluation event next Wednesday? I’m thinking about going, but am sorta on the fence about it…

the bacterium that ate pittsburg
This is sort of cool, in a completely apocalyptic way: there’s a distinct (although slight) possibility that micro-organisms from Mir could survive re-entry, and go on to cause some big problems to the Earth’s ecosphere. Andromeda Strain, anybody?

bitter ironic humor dept.
One of the better signs I saw at the Dupont Circle Inauguration protest is featured in this picture, from Declan McCullagh’s gallery of Inauguration protest photos.

Some recent discussion over at Flutterby prompted me to give Opera a go. After about fifteen minutes, it became clear that the question wasn’t “ditch Mozilla for Opera, or not?”, but rather “Spring for the full version of Opera, or put up with the ads?”. Either my standards for decent web-browsing software have slipped a lot over the last year, or this is a startlingly good piece of work; it looks like others agree.

last time, i promise…
…but somebody had to say it: all your cookies are belong to us.

aaas report
Jerry Pournelle has a summary of this year’s AAAS meeting. Gosh, with focused, detailed writing of this sort, it’s hard to see how Byte went out of print! (</sarcasm>)

march madness
If you run a college basketball pool, you might be interested in the Bracket Pool Manager, which basically automates all the nasty gruntwork.

The more paranoid among you are welcome to theorize about how this makes it trivial to identify people disposed to gamble; information useful both to bookmakers and law officers.

Caught is the Consortium Against Unnecessary Graphics and Hypertext Tags. Dig that manifesto, baby! Oh yah, I feel another redesign coming; it’s time to swing back towards the minimalistic layout…

Hey, it looks like Nanette is headed our way. Any of the DCblog crowd want to volunteer to set up some sort of gathering when she’s in town?

where does the time go?
Despite all my good intentions, I can’t seem to get around to updating more than once a week. sigh Plus I keep coming up with additional ideas and new projects; I really need to start documenting some of those for the (hopefully forthcoming) day when I have time to deal with them.

author, author
Couple of interesting SF author-related sites I’ve run across recently: Alexei Panshin’s Abyss of Wonder and the Bruce Sterling Online Index. Sterling, of course, is the author of The Hacker Crackdown, Heavy Weather, and several others; Panshin is best known for his crit work Heinlein in Dimension, but is also a SF author in his own right.

While I’m on SF, here’s a review of Allen Steele’s forthcoming Chronospace.

geeks + beer = fun
The 2001 Linuxbierwanderung has been scheduled for 25 Aug to 1 Sep. One of these days, I am so going to this…

my! mine!
More fallout from the recent ICANN/VeriSign madness: follow up to the original story, at La Reg and, a community site tracking the story. I’ve been thinking about a design change; I should integrate one of their buttons while I’m at it…

gmo over before they began?
Interesting report on a talk at the recent AAAS meeting. The basic idea is that genetically modified organisms (GMOs) won’t be as big a deal as people have hoped and/or feared — but not for the reasons you might be thinking. Instead of being legislated (or terrorized) until they can’t be used, Robert Goodman is predicting that GMOs will be bypassed in favor of traditional breeding techniques supplemented with knowledge from genomics studies — so that breeders based on the actual genotypes that underlie desired phenotypes.

aim at foot; pull trigger; repeat.
Linked all over the place; originally seen at The Reg: the open PC is dead - start praying. I’d really like to hope that this isn’t going to come about, but I’m all too afraid that it will. The worst part is that in the long run, this is going to totally FUBAR all the industries that are currently trying to shut things down to protect their own IP. I mean, where do They (you know, the idiots behind these plans) think all this gee-whiz neat-o technology comes from, anyway? Having open, ‘hackable’ PCs around when you’re growing up seems to be an almost universal constant in that mysterious process that produces really innovative, creative, product-developing universe shakers.

harlan, meet the ‘net
Duck and cover! Somebody scanned some of Harlan Ellison’s work and posted it to Usenet, and now Harlan has found out — and boy is he ever pissed! It’s a complex issue; I wish they weren’t leaning on the DMCA quite so hard in making their case, but I might send them some money nonetheless. Ellison’s writing has been important to me, and I’d like to see him continue with it.

art, life, whatsa difference?
All I’m gonna say is, don’t fuck with Pauly — err, I mean, Tony.

what’s in a name?
Biologists will appreciate the name of the paternity service referenced in a recent Dan Savage column: the Analytical Genetic Testing Center (AGTC). The non-biologists in the crowd should just move along — there’s nothing to see here.

dr. tux
We’ll finish up today with the cute “The Tux in a Tux”:

“Look at it!
Look at it now!” said the bird,
If we add here StarOffice,
you won’t even need Word!
We can set up the network,
and run things in X,
If you want to do parsing,
just use bison and flex.

Hope y’all have a good weekend, and I’ll see you back here on Monday!

grey goo
Hmmm — perhaps the infamous ‘grey goo’ problems associated with nanotech are actually going to come from genetically modified bacteria

girl genius
Phil Foglio has a new series out, called Girl Genius. The art on the page looks interesting; I’ll pick up the book when and if I see it. Any comics fen out there with reviews?

name one (or many) for the gipper
The latest monument to gone but not forgotten former President Reagan was recently christened by his wife. Initially, I thought that this represented a break with the policy that naval vessels were only named after the deceased, but a bit of Googling showed that I was wrong.

On a personal note, Lor flew to New Hampshire last week, and when I went to check the status of her return flight, I experienced a minor moment of disorientation — “Great Ghu”, I thought, “they’ve gone and renamed the whole damn town!”

We are the BOFHen who go “LART!”

Seriously, if you’ve got a sysadmin in your life, look no further for the next birthday/anniversary/major religious holiday present…

more stuff to read
And boy o boy do I need to start organizing this systematically…Lyn’s future reading list may provide some inspiration in that department.

relax, s/he was after gwb
The Reg has the scoop on the recent Washington state quake:

…a Microsoft spokesgoblin said: “We are happy to announce that following a short phone call between Il Duce Bill Gates and His Highness, He [God] confirmed that the quake was meant for George W Bush and apologised for any inconvenience caused.”

Glad that’s cleared up.

oh my god, it’s full of stars!
Beautiful photo on an edge-on galaxy — which seems to inspire dialog along the lines of “Hey, doesn’t that look like a…” “Yah, it really sorta does!”

(Hey, like the man said, I hate people who can’t get out of the gutter, because they block the view from my periscope…)

hey, clip art!, well known for its defaced site gallery, also has an image gallery. Man, the tee shirt opportunities abound!

(Link found while lurking the SDM)

fucking no-good bastards
…and I don’t mean that in a good way. Seen first at the Reg, ICANN is awarding VeriSign control over .com and .net, in exchange for VeriSign turning .org over to a non-profit organization. That didn’t strike me as too bad, until I saw this /. story on the same topic, which adds that “There are also apparently plans to reinstate the old limits on .org domains - if you aren’t a non-profit corporation, you won’t be permitted to register or keep a .org domain.” That’s just fucking peachy. I haven’t had time to dig through all the crap in order to formulate a decent response for the public coment form on ICANN’s site, but I am pretty displeased.

Anybody out there in blog land able to share any more info on this topic? I’m particularly concerned (for obvious reasons) about the changes to who is allowed to own a .org…