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21 July, 2003

A Forward-Looking Young Lad

The 2020 presidential election should be very interesting. Someone who calls himself "Amenlover" will be running for president.

In 2020 I will be old enough to be elected President. As a result of numerous threats to my safety I have not posted my real name on this web site and have opted to use the pen name Amenlover. However my staff has advised me that if I were to receive a million or more e-signatures from the American voters for the Republican nomination for President I would be assured adequate financial support to afford a security staff sufficient to protect me.

He goes on to list his platform. I can't decide if it's funny or extremely sad. For example:

If elected I will work to ban the manufacture and sale of contraceptives (birth control) with a prison term of up to 1 year in jail and/or a fine of up to $5000 for violating this ban. None of these laws will be retroactive.

I am also 100% against homosexuality and I believe homosexuals including lesbians and bisexuals as well as people with fetishes ought to be put in mental hospitals. This must be done NOW before they degenerate society and our children's morals even further.

I believe in a national dress code. If elected the National Dress Code (NDC) will be as follows: All persons must wear clothing from their neck to three inches below their knees when in public or in the presence of children. Women MUST wear dresses. Trousers are NOT lady-like and therefore women ought not to wear them. Jeans are to be banned.

He's also an advocate of prison reform. A few examples:

  • Prison cells will be made smaller. I would set this to approximately one-half of their average current size.
  • Prisoners will be kept in their cells 24/7 (i.e. NEVER leaving their cells during incarceration).
  • Prisoners will only be fed bread and butter.

Make sure you visit his petition page. Some of the comments are hilarious. And, it seems his home page has been hacked (wait about five seconds).

(via Bifurcated Rivets)

* * *

Update: Probably everyone but me figured out that this site is, in fact, a spoof. Thanks to Jim for pointing me to Amenlover's Journal. Reading a few entries will dispel any doubts you may have. Too bad. I was really looking forward to that 2020 election!

Posted on 21 July, 2003

Office 2003: A Sneak Peek

Michael Desmond, at PC World, writes Sneak Peek: Microsoft Office 2003. He starts out with a question:

Is it a monster upgrade or just a guy in an ape suit? You may be surprised by how little has changed.

I'll go with the ape suit answer.

When I installed the latest Office 2003 beta, my first impression was how little everything had changed. There were few surprises, but there were a lot of tweaks. Word gets a Reading Layout view that makes fonts easier on the eyes. Excel offers new ways to troubleshoot formulas

Actually, he's wrong about Excel. That formula auditing feature was introduced in Excel 2002. You'll need to look very hard to find anything new in Excel 2003.

But the biggest splash comes from the ubiquitous new task pane, a small window that provides context and guidance across all applications. You may find yourself accessing Help, Clip Art, and the useful new Research feature (which searches online reference sites) from the task pane.

Yes, that's right. The task pane is now used for accessing Help. For example, if you want to know how to use a lookup function in Excel, you can search for lookup. The relevant Help entries are listed in the task pane. Click one, and the Help text pops up in a separate window. If that wasn't quite what you need, you'll have to go back to the task bar and click something else. In other words, using Help in Office 2003 requires two windows. Clearly, this is a giant step backwards in terms of usability. It's so bad that I won't even bother to upgrade to Office 2003 (even though I get it free).

As Desmond notes, the best improvements are part of the "Office Family." He cites FrontPage as having lots of improvements. Problem is, FrontPage is no longer included with any edition of Office 2003. You must buy it separately.

Virtually every Office 2003 app speaks XML, making it possible for IT gearheads to link the software on a worker's desktop PC directly to server applications.

That remains to be seen. Personally, I think the new XML features fall into the "looks really good in the marketing literature" department. Actually putting these features to use is no simple task. Also, keep in mind that these XML features are available only in the "professional" edition of Office 2003.

Posted on 21 July, 2003

Ruby Ring

All about Ruby Ring, who was a contortionist and acrobat.

Ruby is not very well known. There are many sites dedicated to contortionists who don't have the amazing skill that Ruby had. So think it's time to give her the recognition she deserves.

Posted on 21 July, 2003

The Microsoft Sound

It's probably common knowledge, but I just found out that Brian Eno composed the 3.25-second Windows start-up music.

The idea came up at the time when I was completely bereft of ideas. I'd been working on my own music for a while and was quite lost, actually. And I really appreciated someone coming along and saying, "Here's a specific problem -- solve it."

The thing from the agency said, "We want a piece of music that is inspiring, universal, blah- blah, da-da-da, optimistic, futuristic, sentimental, emotional," this whole list of adjectives, and then at the bottom it said "and it must be 3 1/4 seconds long."

I thought this was so funny and an amazing thought to actually try to make a little piece of music. It's like making a tiny little jewel.

In fact, I made 84 pieces. I got completely into this world of tiny, tiny little pieces of music. I was so sensitive to microseconds at the end of this that it really broke a logjam in my own work. Then when I'd finished that and I went back to working with pieces that were like three minutes long, it seemed like oceans of time.

Posted on 21 July, 2003

The Gum Wrapper Chain Record

If you have 1,012,183 gum wrappers, you can make a chain that's 43,419 feet long. At least that's what Gary Duschl did.

Posted on 21 July, 2003

Good Lines From The Simpsons

I don't watch much TV anymore, but I still try to catch The Simpsons whenever I can. It is clearly the best show on TV. That's why I was pleased to find Subtly Simpsons.

What follows is a list of lines from The Simpsons that we, your editors, have found to be particularly witty, often with their humor derived from subtleties of language, esoteric allusions, or just plain wit.

Here's an example, from the "Sly Social Commentary" section:

Lisa: Mom, romance is dead. It was acquired in a hostile takeover by Hallmark and Disney, homogenized, then sold off piece by piece.

And here's one from the "Wit" category:

Lisa: This is so cool, Bart. We're just like Woodward and Bernstein.

Bart: Yeah, except their dad wasn't waiting in the car reading Archie comics.

And from the "Vocabulary" section:

Wolly: I can't believe I fell for counterfeit Superbowl tickets. The guys will be crestfallen when they find out.

Homer: Yes, if by 'crestfallen' you mean they're going to kill us.

Posted on 21 July, 2003

The Presurfer's Blogging Marathon

The Presurfer is blogging his ass off today. We're talking 24 hours of continuous blogging. This is to help celebrate his 5,000th post. So check in periodically throughout the day and see if he's still awake.

One word of advice, Gerard: After 18 hours or so, if given a choice between beer and coffee, go for the coffee.

* * *

And, on the other side of the spectrum, I present The Single Bitter Announcement Weblog.

Posted on 21 July, 2003

Life in 1957

Take a Stroll Down Memory Lane, to 1957. A few excerpts:

"When I first started driving, who would have thought gas would someday cost 29 cents a gallon. Guess we'd be better off leaving the car in the garage,"

"Did you see where some baseball player just signed a contract for $75,000 a year just to play ball? It wouldn't surprise me if someday that they will be making more than the President."

"I'm just afraid the Volkswagen car is going to open the door to a whole lot of foreign business." 

Posted on 21 July, 2003

Independent Music

Article: Independent labels back file sharing.

"We believe that those sharing songs are mainly young teenagers who once they have consumable money to spend will go out and purchase music as adults."

And, if current trends continue, the music that they purchase will probably not be from RIAA members. They are in the process of alienating all of their customers.

Posted on 21 July, 2003

The Freedom Fighter's Manual

A booklet published by the CIA.

In the early 80's the CIA published a sabotage manual and distributed it throughout Nicaragua. The anti-Sandanista pamphlet is full of tips on bringing down the infrastructure of the country. "The Freedom Fighter's Manual" is illustrated with childlike cartoons and brief captions. Your tax dollars at work!

The excerpt below explains how to screw things up by making fake hotel reservations. You'll also learn how to clog a toilet, set off false alarms, break light bulbs, damage books, and a load of other useful things.

Posted on 21 July, 2003

The Mystery of Life: Solved!

Yes, the mystery of life has been solved. And the answer is 4.

Scientists have found a simple mathematical relationship that connects the whole of nature, from the tiniest cell to the vast forests of the Amazon. The connections are all based on the three dimensions of the physical world - length, depth and width - plus one, making the number 4.

And this is quite amazing to me:

...the heart of every mammal beats roughly the same number of times in its average lifetime - around 1.5 billion times - regardless of whether it is a dog or a human, a mouse or an elephant.

Posted on 21 July, 2003

BuyMusic Debuts -- Sort Of

On the heels of iTunes for the Mac, BuyMusic is now online -- just for Windows users. Well, I should clarify. It's for Windows users who use Internet Explorer. I went there using Mozilla Firebird, and I was greeted with this:

Thank you for visiting BuyMusic.com.

In order to take full advantage of BuyMusic.com's offerings you must be on a Windows Operating System using Internet Explorer version 5.0 or higher.

Sorry, BuyMusic. I gave up on Internet Explorer last week. And even the promise of allowing me to purchase crappy DRM-crippled music online isn't enough to make me go back.

I'll stick with Emusic, the only music site that's managed to get it right.

Posted on 21 July, 2003

Walkenbach Rip Off Books

Some guy who goes by the name "Excel Guru" started a thread in the microsoft.public.excel.worksheetfunctions newsgroup. His initial post:

DO NOT BUY ANY OF JOHN WALKENBACH'S 2 Excel 2002 books (Formulas and Charts). The price of $40.00 is rediculous [sic] to spend, the publisher uses 3rd world paper on the text and charges as if it is a Microsoft Press release. My copy of Excel 2002 Formulas is 5 months old and the paper is so yellow (cheap) I can barely read it. Also there is no new material in the Charts book that justifies its purchase.

Excel Guru

You can read the entire thread here. And there were two other threads last November. See Walkerbach vs Microsoft and Walkerbach Chart Book (these were before he learned to spell my last name).

I guess my only question is, why does he keep buying my books?

Posted on 21 July, 2003