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3 February, 2003

Microsoft's Shortest Press Release?

REDMOND, Wash., Feb. 3, 2003. Microsoft Corp. today said that it did not release a statement or press release about any acquisition of Vivendi Universal. Any purported press release or news story appearing on a Web site is a hoax. As is consistent with our corporate policy, Microsoft does not comment on rumors or speculation about rumored acquisitions or negotiations.

Read it here.

It was probably posted on the Fake CNN website, which is no longer online (see Wired article). I posted a link to that fake CNN site last week, but I removed it the next day because a few people complained that it was running lots of suspicious JavaScript in the background.

Posted on 3 February, 2003

The Museum of Dirt

At the Museum of Dirt, you'll find lots of dirt collected and submitted by people throughout the world. Many of the exhibits are from the yards of celebrities and other famous people.

The dirt pictured here, for example, was collected from Martha Stewart's yard. As you can see, it hardly even qualifies as "dirt." But then again, what would you expect from Martha Stewart's yard?

Posted on 3 February, 2003

NY Times Web Site to Get Even MORE Annoying

As you probably know, the New York Times web site requires that users "register" by submitting a fake email address. Soon, they'll be drastically increasing the size of their ads. According to the Wall Street Journal:

In April, readers of NYTimes.com, owned by New York Times Co. will start seeing half-page ads running down the right side of the page as they read online articles. The navigational links that typically appear on the far left side of the page will move to the top of the screen, making room for the text of the article to the left of the ad.

"It's a nice, big ad unit," said Jason Krebs, vice president of advertising sales for the NYTimes.com. "We're trying to make the most of what the Internet can offer."

Oh yeah, I forgot. The Internet exists for advertising.

Posted on 3 February, 2003

Cheet Sheet Site Owner Going to the Slammer

From eWeek:

A federal court on Friday sentenced former brain-dump site owner Robert Keppel to 12 months and one day in prison, as well as ordering him to pay $500,000 in restitution to Microsoft Corp.

Keppel, owner of the defunct brain dump sites CheetSheets.com and Cheet-Sheets.com, in August pleaded guilty to charges of theft of trade secrets, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1832(a)(2). The charges stemmed from the sale of exams and answers needed to become an MCSE (Microsoft Certified System Engineer) and MCSD (Microsoft Certified Solution Developer) -- sales that were transacted through Keppel's sites.

Keppel is broke, but:

"It could be Microsoft gets payments of $200/month" for 125 years, she said.

Posted on 3 February, 2003

De-Spectorizing "Let It Be"

From Rolling Stone:

The Beatles' Apple Records is planning a new version of Let It Be, the 1970 album that was released as the group's swan song, for the fall. Though the album will feature the same track listing as the original, the music it contains has been stripped of the orchestration that was added by legendary producer Phil Spector -- thus restoring Paul McCartney's "back to basics" concept that originally underpinned the project.

Phil Spector is also largely responsible for the only Leonard Cohen album that is virtually unlistenable.

In other news, Phil Spector was arrested on a murder charge today.

Posted on 3 February, 2003

Britney's Ugly Hats

A modest collection of Britney Spears photos, each of which features her wearing an ugly hat.

Posted on 3 February, 2003

Bonnie Bramlett is Back

Bonnie Bramlett, best known for her work with "Delaney and Bonnie," has released a new CD -- her first in about 20 years. Actually, it was released last year, but I just found out about it.

I downloaded a copy from emusic.com. She's had an amazing career, and her voice is in top form.

Posted on 3 February, 2003

Crackdown at the Chocolate Factory

From The Onion: U.N. Orders Wonka to Submit to Chocolate Factory Inspections.

All I can say is, it's about damn time!

Posted on 3 February, 2003

I Am a Cell Master

Colo, from Kobe, Japan, runs an Excel web site called Colo's Junk Room (available in both English and Japanese). One of the features at his site is called Cell Masters:

As The Sado is the road of the tea ceremony, and as The Kendo is the road of the sword so too must be "The Road of The Cell Master", the road of Excel. The Cell Masters will be featured here so that you can learn the techniques that will help you become a Master yourself! And it doesn't matter who you are or where you are - Excel is the common bond that brings us together!

Today I became the sixth Cell Master, and earned the black belt shown here. It was easy. First, I received the invitation. Then I answered a series of questions.

Excel users should definitely take a trip to Colo's site. You'll find lots of useful tips, VBA examples, and file downloads. In particular, I like the section called JavaScript for VBA Coders. It contains short snippets coded in both VBA and JavaScript.

Posted on 3 February, 2003

Customers Suck

From the Customers Suck site:

This site is dedicated to the men and women who have to put up with grief from customers on a daily basis. If you are offended by the fact that the employee behind the counter isn't always willing to kiss your ass... Find someone who cares!

Posted on 3 February, 2003

The 25 Best Simpsons Episodes

Entertainment Weekly picks the best 25 of the 300 episodes. The winner? They chose "Last Exit to Springfield," from 1993.

We can say that this episode is virtually flawless, the product of a series at the height of its creative powers -- when the satire was savage and relevant, when names like John Swartzwelder, George Meyer, and Conan O'Brien were relatively unknown, when Maude Flanders lived. So it is that we find America's favorite family at Painless (formerly "Painful") Dentistry, because Lisa is in need of braces. Meanwhile, at the nuclear plant, Mr. Burns is trying to ax the union dental plan. The rest is the stuff of syndication legend: Burns facing down "brilliant" labor kingpin Homer Simpson; Homer Simpson facing down his own brain ("Lisa needs braces/DENTAL PLAN!"); Grampa rattling on about wearing onions on his belt. "Last Exit" is a glorious symphony of the high and the low, of satirical shots at unions and sweet ruminations on the humiliations of adolescence (as evidenced by Lisa, who copes with a medieval mouth contraption), and, of course, all those D'oh!s. The things, in other words, that make us love "The Simpsons" in the first place. Thus we proclaim: Best. Episode. EVER.

Posted on 3 February, 2003

The Year of the Blues

Yes, 2003 is the Year of the Blues, as proclaimed by the U.S. Congress. There will be a huge event at Radio City Music Hall. The top-billed artist is Aerosmith (Aerosmith??). Tickets are available only from TicketMaster, of course (and yes, you need to pay their "convenience charge"). There's a well-populated Advisory Board, and it's all sponsored by Volkswagen.

To some (for example, me), all of this may seem completely contrary to what the blues is really about. But I guess corporate sponsorship is OK when the sponsor has music in its corporate veins:

Old or new, mainstream or underground, music is in our veins. Always has been, always will be. Whether it was a VW Bug on its way to Woodstock or a VW Bus road tripping to one of the very first blues festivals. So here's to that spirit of nostalgia, and the soul of the blues. That's why we're proud to sponsor Year of the Blues 2003.

I wonder if Aerosmith is working on a blues song about Volkswagens?

Well I woke up this morning
With a Jetta on my mind.
Yeah I woke up sweet mamma
With a Jetta on my mind.
The warranty's good for four years
And the car is so well designed.

Posted on 3 February, 2003

Is Microsoft up to its Old Tricks?

First, free browsers. Now free DRM tools. See MS Digital Rights Toolkit - A Market Grab?

"Microsoft hopes that filling a perceived need by the labels to create a DRM solution will help drive Windows Media forward beyond the PC and into the arena of consumer electronics." said Jupiter Research analyst Michael Gartenberg.

At the same time, Microsoft is licensing its Windows Media 9 Series file formats for use on non-Windows operating systems and on devices. Many analysts view the low-cost of the licensing as an attempt to undercut the licensing cost for MPEG-4, the successor to MPEG-2 used on Hollywood movie DVDs and the biggest potential competitive threat to Windows Media technologies.

Posted on 3 February, 2003

The United States of Mexico

I live about 30 miles from the Mexican border. Until yesterday, I didn't know that the official name of that country is "The United States of Mexico."

According to the New York Times, there is a growing movement in that country to change the name to plain old "Mexico."

Posted on 3 February, 2003

Retro TV Sets

Predicta TV, by Telstar. Is this for real?

Yes! Color Predicta TV is a reality. Believe it or not, this is the most commonly asked question we receive at Telstar, and we are ecstatic there are so many people out there who want more from their TV than the generic black box offered by other TV manufacturers. The science and romance of the Predicta legend has been resurrected and continued by Telstar. We realize with the help of software programs such as Photoshop, it is very easy to "fake" a company or product over the Internet. Every unit pictured on our website is a production TV, currently manufactured with new parts. None of the pictures have been doctored in Photoshop or other editing software to create the illusion that we make colors or options that have never been built.

Posted on 3 February, 2003

Tiny Dog Clothes

Check it out -- but only if you have a dog that weighs less than eight pounds. This site may also contain some of the ugliest dog photos ever taken.

Posted on 3 February, 2003

Yes-No

The Dyseducational Road Movie -- a classic bit of Flash about driving. I haven't seen this in quite a while. It still cracks me up.

Posted on 3 February, 2003

Pravda: Is Hussein Owner of Crashed UFO?

This article describes a UFO incident during the Gulf War.

It is allegedly said that the craft crashed during the Gulf War (1990-1991), or more recently (probably in December 1998). This became some kind of Iraq's Rosewell [sic]. The USA is currently reverse-engineering the Rosewell [sic] craft and fears that Saddam's scientists may become even more successful than Americans in this or that sphere. It was said that these researches may give Iraq a considerable advance and even make it a leading super power.

But then, the letdown is in the last paragraph:

This story seems to be absolutely unlikely.

Posted on 3 February, 2003

OneLook Dictionary Search

I usually use Google to quickly check the spelling of a word, and when I need to look up a definition, I normally go to dictionary.com. But I think I'll bypass dictionary.com, and head straight for OneLook.

Posted on 3 February, 2003

Movie Cliches

This is the site where movie directors go before filming. After watching the "Back to the Future" trilogy, it's obvious that Robert Zemeckis learned a few things here:

  • Time will stand still when when the hero is in the presence of a company logo. [or a can of Pepsi]
  • When a character picks up a bottle of whiskey or a pack of cigarettes [or a can of Pepsi], the label will always be clearly visible.

Although it hasn't been updated in a quite a while, the Movie Cliche site is still very funny.

Posted on 3 February, 2003