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29 May, 2003

Mattresses on the Street

In my life, I've probably seen a half dozen or so mattresses lying on the road. Here's a site that specializes in mattresses in places where they probably shouldn't be. Tons of photos!

And, of course, an abandoned mattress in a big city will eventually attract a graffiti artist.

Posted on 29 May, 2003

Weaving a Tangled Web

A list of sequential quotes from U.S. government officials about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction. It starts with:

"Simply stated, there is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass destruction." - Dick Cheney, 26 August, 2002

And ends with:

"For bureaucratic reasons, we settled on one issue, weapons of mass destruction (as justification for invading Iraq) because it was the one reason everyone could agree on." - Paul Wolfowitz, 28 May, 2003

Posted on 29 May, 2003

The Museum of Musical Instruments

Thanks to Gordon Coale for turning me on to the Museum of Musical Instruments -- in particular the Guitar is Art exhibit.

The Museum of Musical Instruments has proudly unveiled its newest addition, The Guitar Is Art: Rhythms of Art and Design In The 20th Century. This exhibition was produced in collaboration with The Museum Of Modern Art, New York, and explores the historical and aesthetic relationship between traditional visual art and the guitar.

Posted on 29 May, 2003

Microsoft Gets IP Rights To English Language

Ed Foster peeks into his crystal ball for this one:

BELLEVUE, WA, July 15, 2004 -- Semi-Unabridged Webster Corp., publishers of the Semi-Unabridged Webster Dictionary of 1923, today announced it has granted a license of English language intellectual property rights to Microsoft Corporation. The licensing deal makes Microsoft the first company to ensure its products and services will be in copyright compliance with the use of English.

"We are very grateful for Microsoft's acknowledgement of our intellectual property rights and for their support in our efforts to make English available to all for a reasonable licensing fee," said Preston Gates Ellis, CEO and General Counsel for the recently-formed Semi-Unabridged Webster (SUW). Ellis acknowledged that Microsoft received a particularly favorable licensing due to its "small investment" in his company, but declined to provide detailed numbers.

Read the rest of it.

Posted on 29 May, 2003

Movies From the Viral Factory

Viral marketing is a non-traditional way of advertising products. It relies on word of mouth communication from consumers -- kind of like what I'm doing by writing this entry. The Viral Factory specializes in this form of advertising.

Take a look at some very cool MPEG movies from the Viral Factory in this raw directory listing. If they close up that link, go here instead. If you only have time for one, go for Facedance.mpg.

(via The Presurfer)

Posted on 29 May, 2003

Dog and Cat Stuff

A few miscellaneous items about household pets:

Posted on 29 May, 2003

Two-Headed Tortoise

A South African man has found a two-headed tortoise.

"But the tortoise is normal and both heads feed on leaves, grass and softened rabbit pellets," he said. "When the tortoise gets a fright, the heads each want to move in its own direction, and then the feet get all tangled up."

Posted on 29 May, 2003

The Programmable Web

From The Guardian: The third era starts here

The programmable web is different for two main reasons. First, instead of going to look at a web page, you can get a computer to extract the information for you. Second, you don't have to view that information in a browser: you could use it in a different application, or on a different device, such as a mobile phone. When websites make information available in this way, they are called web services.

You will be hearing much more about web services. This article presents a good overview.

Posted on 29 May, 2003

Mystery Runners

The Mystery Runners site is a bit of a mystery to me.

This is a website dedicated to two extraordinary men. Powerful, powerfully moustached men who quite literally refuse to stop. I first spotted 'the runners' in October 2002 in Wycombe High St. and have followed them ever since.

Update: The mystery is explained here.

Posted on 29 May, 2003

Belly Button Lint

Karl Kruszelnicki, of The University of Sydney, published A comprehensive survey of human belly button lint. This, by the way, is a winner of a 2002 Ig Nobel Prize.

Peter Johnson and Geoffrey B. Scott from the Department of Pathology at the University of Aberdeen very cleverly observed that "abdominal body hair tends towards the umbilicus, as roads to Rome. It is our contention that particles of Lint caught in this bristly trap are cast navelwards under the influence of body movement."

Of course, this Hair Transport Theory would easily explain why there seems to be less BBL in women that in men - because women have less body hair.

The image shown here is belly button lint under an electron microscope.

Posted on 29 May, 2003

Only Two More Years of Spam

From InfoWorld: Microsoft: Spam can be contained within two years

"Spam has reached epic proportions and we are in a crisis situation," said Ryan Hamlin, general manager of Microsoft's antispam technology and strategy group, speaking at Microsoft's Silicon Valley campus.

Microsoft, together with industry partners and even traditional rivals such as America Online, is working to can spam. The topic has also drawn the interest of the U.S. Federal Trade Commission and U.S. lawmakers, who appear ready to pass antispam legislation this year.

These efforts should halt the growth in spam that lands in users' inboxes and within 18 months could even reduce it, Hamlin said. Within two years, spam can be contained and reduced to the level of a mere nuisance, he predicted. Spam will become like computer viruses: something that is out there but which a user is not often hit by, Hamlin said.

Yeah, right. I don't believe this for a second.

Posted on 29 May, 2003

The Periodic Table Table

If you've ever taken a chemistry course, you know about the periodic table.  Here's a periodic table that's actually a table -- a wooden table, build by Theodore Gray.

Having decided to make a table, the details fell quickly into place. One thing was immediately obvious: Each element group (e.g. alkali metals, noble gases, etc) would be represented by a different type of wood, with suitably clever analogies made between wood grain and chemical properties. Equally obvious was that the basic matrix of the table would be made of two-inch-thick Walnut boards, because I have two-inch-thick Walnut boards up the wazu on account of a fortuitous auction purchase some years ago.

Posted on 29 May, 2003

More on the Nigerian Email Conference

A few days ago I posted an attempt at humor called The Nigerian EMail Conference. Holy mackerel! That piece has been getting some attention. As of this morning, it's the most popular document at j-walk.com, and it even got listed at the Museum of Hoaxes.

I expect the folks from The Onion will be calling me any day now...

Posted on 29 May, 2003

Introducing Array Formulas

The Microsoft Office web site now features an article by Colin Wilcox and myself: Introducing Array Formulas in Excel. It's the first of a three-part series.

Much of the material was adapted from my Excel 2002 Formulas book, so if you've read that book you won't find much that's new. But if you're curious about array formulas, check it out.

Posted on 29 May, 2003