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6 May, 2003

The Microsoft Art Collection

Yes folks, Microsoft does have an art collection.

In early 1987, Microsoft entered the first six buildings of its new corporate campus in Redmond, Washington, a group of X-shaped buildings nestled among tall Douglas Firs. The beauty of the surrounding natural setting contrasted with the rather plain and not-very-stimulating interiors of the buildings, which featured unadorned gray walls, blue-gray carpeting, and narrow, maze-like hallways.

The drab interiors did not go unnoticed. During the question and answer portion of the 1987 company meeting, user interface designer Virginia Howlett asked why there was no art on the walls. Good question! Jon Shirley, Microsoft's Chief Operating Officer at the time and himself an avid patron of the arts, fielded Virginia's question. He responded by chartering a committee of employees to acquire art for the company's buildings. Thus, the Microsoft Art Collection was born.

The site is actually pretty impressive. The current exhibit is a collection of paintings by Niki de St. Phalle (celebrating Women's History Month). In addition, you can access the archives to view previous exhibits.

Nice job, Microsoft!

Posted on 6 May, 2003

This Blog Item Should Cost Me $750

I found an interesting article at MSNBC: The Prince of Pop-Up Ads. Here's an excerpt:

If you hate pop-up ads, you might blame Brian Shuster. A long-time figure in the Internet pornography world, Shuster recently received a patent for the ad format and is now looking to make some money off the sites that use it. And that's just the beginning -- Shuster has a long list of pending patents, including one for pop-up audio ads that cannot be turned off.

The article is interesting. But even more interesting is a new element on the MSNBC site: A button that reads "Click here to license this content." I don't know how long this has been in use, but I noticed it for the first time today.

Curious, I clicked the button to get a price quote. It all relies on Javascript, so I had to do some finagling to actually get it to work. I eventually found out that MSNBC wants me to pay them $750 to include an excerpt from that article on my web site -- or $1,500 to publish the entire article.

Funny... I always thought that reproducing a small excerpt from an article was called "fair use." But I guess that concept is now dead.

Posted on 6 May, 2003

Spam Toons

A small collection of cartoons about spam.

Posted on 6 May, 2003

Is It News or an Ad?

From the New York Times:

Aaron Brown of CNN, Walter Cronkite and other broadcast journalists have been hired to appear in videos resembling newscasts that are actually paid for by drug makers and other health care companies, blurring the line between journalism and advertising.

Critics of the news media say that the videos mislead viewers by packaging promotional material to look like news. Dr. Joseph Turow, a professor at the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania, said that he had seen similar videos in the past that tried to imitate news but never ones featuring working journalists, let alone such prominent ones as Mr. Safer and Mr. Brown.

Posted on 6 May, 2003

Are You Faster and Smarter?

Microsoft Press has a new line of "faster and smarter" books. And to celebrate the occasion, they've prepared a series of quizzes.

I took the challenging five-item Office XP quiz, and I was declared to be an expert! I guess I don't need one of their books. Nor will I sign up for their sweepstakes -- which, of course, requires a Microsoft Passport account.

Posted on 6 May, 2003

Akiyoshi's Illusions

I've linked to Akiyoshi Kitaoka's Illusion Pages in the past, but it's worth another trip. He updates it regularly, and it never ceases to amaze me. It now has a warning:

Caution: This page contains some works of "anomalous motion illusion", which might make sensitive observers dizzy or sick. Should you feel dizzy, you had better leave this page immediately.

Posted on 6 May, 2003

Shakespearean Insults

Get a random insult, courtesy of Willie the Shake. If you don't like it, then...

Thou hath not so much brain as ear wax.

Posted on 6 May, 2003

Monolithic Domes

The Monolithic Dome Institute has everything you need to know about monolithic domes. Let's start with the basics... what is a monolithic dome?

The Monolithic Dome is a super-insulated, steel reinforced concrete structure used for homes, schools, gymnasiums, bulk storage facilities, churches, offices, and many other uses... Monolithic Domes have real strength. They can withstand the force of a tornado, hurricane or earthquake. They cannot burn, rot or be eaten by bugs. The Monolithic Dome is energy efficient. It will usually save fifty percent on heating and cooling costs compared to a comparable conventional building.

Posted on 6 May, 2003

Fight Club: The Screenplay

One of my favorite movies of all time is David Fincher's Fight Club. It's one of those rare situations in which the movie is actually better than the novel that it's based on.

The complete screenplay for this film is available online.

Posted on 6 May, 2003

Encyclopedia of Integer Sequences

Anyone with more than a passing interest in mathematics will appreciate this incredible site: The On-Line Encyclopedia of Integer Sequences.

For example, here's a sequence for you:

0,1,3,1,1,4,1,0,7,1,0,226,1,0,7,1,0,3,2,0,2,2,0,1,3,1,1,4,1, 0,7,1,0,76,1,0,7,1,0,3,2,0,2,2,0,1,3,1,1,4,1,0,7,1,0,46,1,0, 8,1,0,3,2,0,2,2,0,1,3,1,1,4,1,0,6,1,0,33,1,0,9,1

This sequence represents the absolute value of the Tangent of n, where n ranges from 0 to 81. In terms of an Excel formula, use this:

=ABS(INT(TAN(A1)))

Here's another:

1,2,3,5,9,12,21,22,23,25,29,31,32,33,35,39,41,42,43,45,49

This sequence represents integers that end with a vowel: one, two three, five, nine, etc.

Posted on 6 May, 2003

Butter Sculpture

Life-size Butter Sculptures by Sharon BuMann.

(via Geisha asobi blog)

Posted on 6 May, 2003

Anti-Piracy Games For Kids

The Business Software Alliance is now appealing to kids. Their Play It Cyber Safe site has games designed for young children. For example, the game called Piracy Deepfreeze is described as:

Stop the pirates from freezing the city. Throw your ball into the pirates and their stolen software before they hit the ground... Be sure to catch the license to protect your city.

(via Boing Boing)

Posted on 6 May, 2003

Smart Phrases

The Smart Phrases site has...

...thousands of foreign phrases arranged by subject for seven major languages in a fully searchable online database.

There's also a random phrase generator, which gave me this Dutch phrase:

Geef me maar jou hoed, ik denk dat ik ga kotsen.

Which means:

Hand me your top hat. I think I'm going to be sick!

Posted on 6 May, 2003

100 Words

People who write 100 words a day -- no more, no less. Here's a random 100-word example:

They played that damned song again. I was driving home and before I realized, I was lost in the past again. I'll never forget that night with her. It was our only time to go so far, but it was wonderful. I found myself wondering if she ever gets lost in a memory like I do. It's been years, I'm married to someone else now. I love her, but in a different way. I guess it's true that you never get over your first love. Sometimes I wonder what would have happened if I'd have never got impatient about love.

I counted 'em and there are exactly 100 words.

Posted on 6 May, 2003

The Disney Tattoo Guy

I'm rather old-fashioned when it comes to tattoos. One or two tattoos are OK, but covering your entire body with tattoos is a bit extreme -- especially when the subject matter is Disney characters.

George C. Reiger Jr. is proclaimed by the worldwide news media as the #1 devoted Disney fan of all time! He is the only person in the world with over 1,500 Disney tattoos. He is also the only person with a custom built Disney House in the world with over 19,000 Disney items

Apparently, he's got some kind of deal with Disney. He's allowed to use only two private tattoo artists, and...

Disney prohibits him from going to tattoo parlors or appearing in tattoo magazines.

It must be fun to have your body owned by a huge corporation.

Posted on 6 May, 2003

Experiments in Non-Traditional Cereal

This site is all about home-made cereal: Take some food item, put in in a bowl, pour on some milk, and eat it. Then report the results. A few examples:

  • Oyster Crackers: Decent, but not that much flavor. Didn't get soggy that fast.

  • Planter's Mixed Nuts: This is probably the most unhealthy cereal ever. It wasn't that good either.

  • Wheat Thins: These weren't as bad as I was expecting, but that's not saying very much.

  • Raisinettes: Excellent cereal. I'm surprised they don't make one already...

  • Peanut M&Ms: Too hard, and didn't really taste any different, they just tasted like wet M&Ms

This same guy also has a great travelogue that describes his Florida vacation.

Posted on 6 May, 2003

Brain Novelties and Gifts

Looking for a brain-related gift? Red Reef Publications is a good place to start.

You'll find lots of items, including a Brain Jello Mold, a Glow-In-The-Dark Brain, Brain Art Stamps, a Brain Baseball Cap, and even Giant Brain Gummies.

Posted on 6 May, 2003