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20 November, 2002

Coming From Microsoft: MyLifeBits

Microsoft Research is working on a project called MyLifeBits. The goal:

To put all personal documents and media online, to allow time-shifting, and location independence when you are connected to MyLifeBits.

More information at New Scientist:

...engineers at Microsoft's Media Presence lab in San Francisco are aiming to build multimedia databases that chronicle people's life events and make them searchable. "Imagine being able to run a Google-like search on your life," says Gordon Bell, one of the developers.

Posted on 20 November, 2002

Personalized Spam

You gotta love it. I just received a spam email from a company called Webslimmer. It started out, "Dear john" (that certainly attracted my attention!). It then displayed an analysis of my very minimalist home page (j-walk.com), including a GIF snapshot.

I was warned: If a page doesn't load in 8 seconds, you'll lose 1/3 of your visitors. It then revealed some alarming statistics about my site:

Using a 56K modem, my home page requires 0.5 seconds to load. But if I let Webslimmer lead me through "the magic trip" of optimization, I can cut that down to a mere 0.3 seconds -- a 35% reduction!

But the kicker was the description of their tool: WebSlimmer is a smart tool. I sure hope it's smarter than their spamming methods.

Posted on 20 November, 2002

Trustworthy Computing... Sort Of

Microsoft's claim is to promote trustworthy computing. I guess the claim doesn't cover the trustworthiness of the company itself. According to a wired.com article:

Microsoft took a public file server offline Tuesday after Internet users discovered that the system contained scores of internal Microsoft documents, including a huge customer database with millions of entries.

Wow, I wonder how much a spammer would pay for that list?

Sure, mistakes happen. But I'm starting to think that Microsoft's web site is completely out of control. It's a behemoth that changes constantly, and gets increasingly complex and less usable with each change.

Have you ever tried to search for something at microsoft.com? Forget it. It's much more efficient to use Google, and limit the search results to the microsoft.com domain.

Posted on 20 November, 2002

Step Right Up and Get Yer Cyborg Name

Pop over to the Brunching Shuttlecocks site and learn what your cyborg name is. According to the site:

The Cyborger will tell you what your name would mean if you happened to be a shallow imitation of humanity with a dark purpose.

For example, the cyborg name for J-Walk is: Journeying Wireless Android Limited to Killing.

Cute, but not very accurate. Fact is, I hate traveling, and I own nothing that is wireless (well OK, a 5-year old cell phone and a garage door opener). And killing is just a small part of my repertoire (and is pretty much limited to small household pests).

But some cyborg names are extremely accurate. For example, the cyborg name for EXCEL is: Electronic eXperimental Calculation and Exploration Lifeform.

Posted on 20 November, 2002

Homeland Defense

Sometimes a political cartoon is so good that it simply must be shared. This cartoon, from Steve Breem, appeared in this morning's San Diego Union Tribune.

Posted on 20 November, 2002

Next Version of Windows: Screenshots Available

If you'd like a sneak peek at what the next version of Windows might look like, head over to neowin.net.

From the site:

It appears that Longhorn build 3683 leaked to the web last night opening the dawn of a new beta that Microsoft still has yet to announce. Not much is known about this version of Windows. You have one party saying its the major release of Windows that will not see store shelves until 2005 and the other party (myself included) saying that this is none other than Windows XP "Second Edition". Both claims will remain pure speculation until Microsoft themselves announces something. Microsoft have been equally dis-orientated by first announcing that Longhorn won't be released till 2005 and then later saying that a "in between client version of Windows is likely" citing a 2003 release.

Posted on 20 November, 2002

The Visible Human

If you have even a passing interest in anatomy (and who doesn't?), take a look around the Visible Human Project Gallery. The MPEG video is incredible.

The Visible Human Project... is the creation of complete, anatomically detailed, three-dimensional representations of the normal male and female human bodies. Acquisition of transverse CT, MR and cryosection images of representative male and female cadavers has been completed. The male was sectioned at one millimeter intervals, the female at one-third of a millimeter intervals.

For those who are too squeamish to view cross section of human bodies, there's also a tamer spin-off project: The Visible Barbie Project.

Posted on 20 November, 2002

Happy Palindrome Day

Today is 20-11-02. Celebrate wisely and responsibly. You'll need to wait 71 days for the next one.

Posted on 20 November, 2002

Professional Pasta

So you can't tell a rochetti from a conchigliette? Did you know that fusilli is also known as tortiglioni? Or spirali? Is there any pasta variety smaller than anchellini? And why is farfalloni suitable for a formal dinner?

The answers to these questions, and many more, can be found at the Professional Pasta web site (NOTE: amateurs are allowed).

Particularly noteworthy is the World Directory of Pasta Shapes and Names. You can select your pasta from a menu, and view photos and read the details. When it comes to pasta, his site has it all -- except recipes. Doh!

Posted on 20 November, 2002