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2 January, 2003

Windows Media Player 9 Countdown

Sometimes you gotta wonder...

Here's a link to Microsoft's Windows Media Home. Make sure that you have JavaScript enabled, and also make sure that the browser's status bar is displayed.

Notice the countdown display, which changes every second. Also notice how the mouse pointer flickers. This document contains a script that requests six items every second. It's a continuous loop. Leave the page displayed for 24 hours, and it will make more than half a million server requests!

I've see lots of similar countdowns on web pages, but this is, by far, the most inefficient (and annoying) method ever devised. Surely the world's most successful software company could come up with something better than this?

  • Update: Don't bother clicking that link. The problem has been fixed. I guess a few million server hits got their attention.

Posted on 2 January, 2003

Celebrity Mug Shots

The Smoking Gun has, perhaps, the ultimate collection of celebrity mug shots. You'll find many of your favorites, including Stone Cold Steve Austin to Tanya Harding, and Roger Clinton.

And if you still can't find who you're looking for (e.g., Zsa Zsa Gabor), try this site.

Posted on 2 January, 2003

bit.ch

The *.ch top level domain was originally intended for sites in Switzerland, but anyone can register a site with a *.ch suffix. It seems that someone in Denmark (Rasmus Helmich?) snatched up the excellent and desirable name of bit.ch, and parked a blog there.

Posted on 2 January, 2003

Peering Into Her Microsoft Crystal Ball

Mary Jo Foley, who runs the Microsoft Watch web site, published a column that listed ten 2003 predictions for Microsoft. Her prediction about Office 11 caught my eye:

Office 11 will mark the end of feature bloat-and the start of app bloat. Watch for Microsoft to deliver more Office add-ons, like XDocs and OneNote, in the coming year. (Anyone got any leads on what else the Information Worker team has up its sleeve?) It's tough to say how many Office apps constitute too many. Guess we'll see how users take to the ever-expanding Office family in mid-2003.

I think Microsoft Office has lots of problem, but feature bloat isn't one of them. The real problem with MS Office is that it is poorly designed and its user interface is absolutely horrid. It's not that it has too many features -- it's that the features are inaccessible for all but experienced users who take the time to dig them out.

By software standards, Microsoft Office is an ancient product. It was pieced together from the start, and over the years it has been maintained by duct tape. Microsoft is certainly capable of producing a much better Office suite.  But the upcoming Office 11 will be more of the same. As usual, Microsoft is counting on their Marketing group to convince users that it's a must-have upgrade.

Posted on 2 January, 2003

Psychic Predictions for 2003

Nikki claims to be "psychic to the stars." Since I've never heard of her, I'll have to take her word for it.

In any case, she has published a long list of predictions for 2003. A few non-random samples:

  • DROWNING OF A MAJOR MOTION PICTURE STAR - Hey, can you be a bit more specific?
  • SEIGFREID AND ROY HAVE TO BE CAREFUL OF A CRAZED TIGER - I think anyone has to be careful of a crazed tiger.
  • SUSAN SARANDON RUNNING FOR POLITICS - So running for office isn't good enough?
  • PRESIDENT BUSH WILL BOMB IRAQ - Well, Duh!
  • AN ATTACK AGAINST MICROSOFT - They are attacked every day. Can you be more specific?
  • MUSTACHES FOR MEN - I think that one has already come true
  • She predicts lots of terrorist attacks. Among them: MANILLA, HONOLULU, HAWAII, CANADA, MORROCCO, LAS VEGAS, NIAGARA FALLS, SYDNEY, LONDON, PARIS, ISRAEL, DISNEYLAND, ISTANBUL, PRAGUE, and ST. LOUIS, MISSOURI
  • SWARMS OF BEES COMING TO NORTH AMERICA - Again???
  • AN AVALANCHE IN SWITZERLAND - How unusual!
  • SMALLER CANS - That could mean several things
  • TERRIBLE WINTER STORMS - Wow, she's really good!
  • She also predicts the following will die in 2003 or 2004: LUCIANO PAVAROTTI, SHELLY WINTERS, JOHNNY CASH, JOHNNY CARSON, VICE PRESIDENT CHENEY, SADDAM HUSSEIN, FIDEL CASTRO, MICK JAGGER, ZAZA GABOR, RONALD REAGAN, BOB HOPE,
    PAMELA ANDERSON LEE, ANNA NICOLE SMITH, MICHAEL JACKSON, KATHERIN HEPBURN

Posted on 2 January, 2003

Family Discount For Windows?

CNET published an article today about Microsoft's expansion of its product activation technology (it will now be required for a $19.95 Windows add-on!). The author, Joe Wilcox, mentioned that Microsoft provides "family licenses" for Windows XP:

Some consumers initially balked at Windows XP's product activation feature, since they would not be able to install the operating system on multiple PCs. But technically, such activity is considered piracy, since the consumers would not have paid for use of the software on additional computers. Microsoft responded to these complaints by offering consumers discounts on Windows XP "family licenses."

I remember reading about this program, but I haven't heard anything about it recently. As I recall, multiple licenses for Windows XP used within a household could be purchased at a discount -- $10-$30 off the full retail price.

A search at microsoft.com yields nothing. Every trace of this program has been eradicated.

According to an undated story at PC World:

But the post-launch reality turned out to be less rosy. Family Licenses have yet to be offered by any major retailer. And while Microsoft's Web site did offer them--for a bottom-of-range $10 off the regular retail price of an XP upgrade-- people who actually tried to buy them a month or so after XP's launch were told that Microsoft had run out of them. At the time, Microsoft said it had underestimated demand for the licenses.

Could it be that consumers realized that a $10 discount off of the full retail price ($199) is not really a discount at all?

Posted on 2 January, 2003

Way to Go Boing Boing

Cory Doctorow posted a brief year-end summary of access statistics for his Boing Boing blog. In 2002, Boing Boing had 3,650 posts, and more than 2.3 million page views -- an average of 6,425 per day. This is probably the most popular blog in the world. The raw data is available in an Excel file, and the current site stats are available to the public.

To put things into perspective, the J-Walk Blog averages a mere 892 page views per day.

If you're not a regular reader of Boing Boing, you should be. And, by the way, don't confuse boingboing.net with boingboing.com --  which "is excited to bring a new and refreshing site for the year 2002! Please stay tuned" The site is empty, so they're about a year late.

Posted on 2 January, 2003

How Low Can Dow Go?

Here's a link to an amazing article at the Greenpeace site.

In a stunning example of corporate insensibility, Dow Chemical, the worlds largest chemical company, and new owners of Union Carbide is to sue survivors of the 1984 Union Carbide gas disaster in Bhopal, India. While the site of the disaster lies covered in toxic waste and survivors struggle with continuing ill health and deadly pollution from the site, Dow has decided to add to their woes with a Indian lawsuit.

Why?

On December 2nd a peaceful march of 200 women survivors from Bhopal delivered toxic waste from the abandoned Carbide factory back to Dow's Indian headquarters in Bombay with the demand that Dow take responsibility for the disaster and clean up the site. Dow obviously has other ideas because they are suing survivors for about US$10,000 for "loss of work". That's US$10,000 compensation demanded for a two hour peaceful protest.

Posted on 2 January, 2003

Eggplant on the Web

The ultimate eggplant resource, thanks to someone named Ashbury. More than 2,000 recipes, clip art, and more.

When people ask me Ashbury, why all this eggplant stuff? I say Why not?

Posted on 2 January, 2003

Sports Cliche List

Study this list, and you'll have what it takes to be a sports announcer.

Posted on 2 January, 2003