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28 October, 2003

More On Gator

This morning's entry about Gator, the scumware company, elicited several emails.

Ken T. points out that Gator's logo (shown below) is actually a very good symbol that represents spying.

Ron S. sent me this link: Why I Love Gator. It was written about two years ago by someone named Christopher Saunders. He seems very excited about Gator's potential for the advertising industry. Or maybe I misunderstood the article. The point he's making is really not all that clear.

And Lisa M sent me this interesting link: Documentation of Gator Advertisements and Targeting, by Benjamin Edelman. Here's the summary:

The Gator Corporation designs software to display advertisements on users' computer screens, triggered in part by the specific web sites users visit. The author has developed an automated method of determining which specific advertisements Gator has associated with which web sites, data that may be helpful to web site operators, policy-makers, and others in assessing Gator's practices. This article offers listings of more than eight thousand specific sites targeted by Gator as well as analysis of the advertisements shown. An interface is also available to let interested Internet users to test Gator's advertisements on their own.

And finally, you might want to read through Gator's Privacy Statement and End User License Agreement. It takes 6,156 words to cover their asses. And it's even accompanied by a user testimonial:

"I LOVE GATOR! It is the GREATEST! I love how it remembers and fills in all of my passwords at the various websites that I visit. And of course I also love how it fills in the forms for me. I also love GATOR because it is very easy to use. I learned how to use it in seconds. GATOR RULES!" - S. Rubin

It's either a fake quote, or S. Rubin is a complete moron.

Posted on 28 October, 2003

Longhorn And VisiCalc

Dan Bricklin writes:

I just got a heads up from Larry Magid, who noticed on News.com that Microsoft demonstrated Longhorn's "backward compatibility...running VisiCalc, the 20-year-old spreadsheet program." That's really nice that they are continuing the tradition of compatibility and showing it with VisiCalc.

Software compatibility is something I have discussed about an older version of Windows back in 2000 in my "The Evolving Personal Computer" essay. Of course, as I pointed out in "Copy Protection Robs The Future", the only reason I have a copy that can still work is that someone kept a "bootleg" uncopyprotected copy around.

The original disks may not have worked on a Longhorn machine. Just copying the files from the original 5 1/4" floppy to a 3 1/2" one that would fit in today's machines certainly would result in a non-working copy, because of copy protection. We will regret "Digital Restriction/Rights Management" in the future.

Exactly. There is absolutely no way that DRM-crippled products that are purchased today will still work in 20 years.

(via Joho the Blog)

Posted on 28 October, 2003

Knee Defender

After spending about 13 hours on cramped planes in the past few weeks, I like this idea: The Knee Defender.

Knee Defender stops reclining seatbacks so your knees won't have to. Unique, patent pending Knee Defender gives you control when confronted by a faceless, determined seat recliner who doesn't care how long your legs are.

This small device, shown here, costs $10. Just lower your tray table and insert it on either arm.

Posted on 28 October, 2003

Search Inside The Book At Amazon

A few days ago, Amazon introduced a new feature: the ability to search for text inside of a book. I tried it yesterday for several of my own books, and it worked well. For example, I was able to learn some useful charting tips from my Excel Charts book.

This USA Today article has some more details:

It took a bold stroke for Amazon, the world's largest online retailer, to make the new service available. First, it had to scan 33 million book pages into an image archive, in some cases manually tearing pages from bindings to run through a scanner, in others, shipping caches of books to scanning centers in India and the Philippines.

Today, that feature no longer works for my books (and several others that I've tried). I don't know why. Maybe the publisher didn't like the idea of giving away free content. Or maybe the servers are just overloaded.

From an article at the New York Times (fake name registration required):

Paul Aiken, executive director of the Authors Guild, a writers' trade group, regarded the practice as dubious. He said that publishers did not have the right to make the contents of books available without the authors' permission. "We find it a matter of serious concern," Mr. Aiken said.

As an author, I don't really have a problem with this idea. After all, anybody can walk into a bookstore and browse through my books as long as they like (and even take notes). Or, they can go to a library and check them out for a week or two.

Posted on 28 October, 2003

The Picture Of Everything

A single picture that contains every comic book super hero? Check out Howard Hallis' The Picture of Everything.

It all started in 1997 when I began doing a drawing of Spider-Man. This led to a drawing of other super heroes from Marvel and DC around him in the picture. Soon I had Superman, Wonder Woman, Batman, Spawn and The Hulk and was quickly thinking of more. Inspired by some of the works of Alex Ross and other comic book artists, I decided to try and draw as many super heroes as I could in one picture.

Here's just a tiny segment of the huge image. You can, of course, zoom in on any part of it.

Posted on 28 October, 2003

TinyURL Whacking

For those who are extremely bored or easily amused: TinyURL Whacking. As you may know, TinyURL is a service that converts a long URL into a short URL.

Now, the other day, I realized that what was particularly interesting about tinyurl is that you can predict what URLs it gives to other people. All the URLs it gives out are combinations of one, two or three lowercase letters and numbers. If, as you'd expect, it's programmed to serve the shortest ones first, then (given that it's now generating three-letter codes) all the two-letter codes must already have been generated.

So if you pick one or two letters or numbers, you can jump to a random page which someone found interesting fairly recently.

Posted on 28 October, 2003

Gator Isn't Spyware!

From CNET: See you later, anti-Gators?

In an effort to improve its corporate reputation, adware company Gator has launched a legal offensive to divorce its name from the hated term "spyware"--and so far its strategy is paying off.

In response to a libel lawsuit, an antispyware company has settled with Gator and pulled Web pages critical of the company, its practices and its software. And other spyware foes are getting the message.

Further proof that scumbag companies and their scumbag lawyers can do just about anything.

"If we find anyone publicly calling us spyware, we correct it and take action if necessary," said Scott Eagle, Gator's senior vice president of marketing.

Gator is spware scumware.

Posted on 28 October, 2003

Microsoft Proofing Tools

Go to Microsoft's shopping site, and do a search for "proofing tools 2003." You'll get this:

By the time you read this, they may have used Proofing Tools 2003 to locate the typo.

Posted on 28 October, 2003

Siren and Flash Patterns

Galls is a company that provides public safety equipment and apparel. Their tech support page has sound files of various siren sounds.

Do you know the difference between a wail and an airhorn on your siren? Galls website makes your siren purchase easy.

They also have examples of emergency flash patterns.

Galls Flashing Systems make your vehicle more visible. Every flashing system is designed to provide additional attention-getting warning from your vehicle's 2 or 4-headlight system.

Posted on 28 October, 2003

Novelty Radios

Gary Arnold's Novelty Radio Page. He's not just a collector, he's a supercollector.

Shown here is a "Billy's Brother," a radio shaped like a former U.S. president.

Posted on 28 October, 2003


Michael A. Stinson's Symbolman - a symbol story of a symbol man from a symbol town (Flash animation).

Posted on 28 October, 2003

Recycled Links, Part 1

I think I'll make this a new weekly feature. I'll browse through the J-Walk blog archives, and pick out the best links from about a year ago. There's lots of good stuff out there that gets overlooked, so this is a way to provide some good links without looking like I'm accidentally repeating myself.

So without further ado, here are the best links from Week 1 of the J-Walk Blog. These were originally presented during the week of 14 October, 2002.

Posted on 28 October, 2003

If Hippies Ruled

From the creative people at Worth 1000: A Photoshop contest called If Hippies Ruled.

Posted on 28 October, 2003

100 Greatest Novels

From the Guardian: The 100 greatest novels of all time.

I've only read about 15 of them.

Posted on 28 October, 2003

Dead Celebrities

From Forbes: Top-Earning Dead Celebrities.

Our third annual list of top-earning deceased celebrities tracks the posthumous business dealings of the biggest stars of yesteryear... To qualify for our list, the person in question still must earn a minimum of $5 million annually.

 Not surprisingly, Elvis tops the list. He brings in about $40 million per year.

Posted on 28 October, 2003

Active Fire Maps

Courtesy of the USDA Forest Service: MODIS Active Fire Maps.

Here you will find information on current large fires, active fire maps, and fire imagery as seen by the MODIS instrument on board NASA's EOS satellites, Terra & Aqua.

Posted on 28 October, 2003

Tramp Lamps

What's a Tramp Lamp?

Tramp Lamps are one of a kind illuminations created from vintage clothing and undergarments. Each lamp is unique to the antique shop or thrift store it came from. The fabric of each piece is stiff and durable like a lampshade.

There are certain details of the lamps that will remain soft, such as any flowers, ribbon or overlayed fabric that is too delicate to be manipulated. A matching satin hanger is included.

Posted on 28 October, 2003

Bankrupt Pop-Unders

From ZDNet: X10 files for Chapter 11.

The company that only last year billed itself as the world's largest online advertiser has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

X10 Wireless Technology, which marketed its Net cameras through a vast campaign of Web pop-under advertisements, made the filing on Tuesday in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Western District of Washington.

Posted on 28 October, 2003

Excel 2003 Stat Functions

Many of the statistical functions in Excel have serious bugs. Many of these bugs have been corrected in Excel 2003.

Here's an amazingly detailed and comprehensive site from Microsoft: Excel 2003 Statistical Functions Resource Center.

Posted on 28 October, 2003

RSS Weather

If you use a news aggregator (such as Bloglines), you can go to RSS Weather and get RSS feeds that contain weather information for various cities.

Posted on 28 October, 2003

Longhorn Blogs

Those who actually care about the next version of Windows might be interested in the Longhorn Blogs.

I found an entry called Longhorn Wish #9:

I would also like Explorer to be smarter when performing actions on a group of files. Today, if something happens during file transfer, when for instance you don't have enough permission on one file, or the file is locked when you want to delete it, Explorer just breaks the whole procedure.

Can you believe that this problem still exists in Windows XP?

Posted on 28 October, 2003

Fire Photo

This is one of the most dramatic photos of the San Diego area fires that I've seen yet.

To see a larger version, go to Suzi's Diary Date blog.

Posted on 28 October, 2003

Negative Calories

It's verified to be true by Snopes: Eating celery results in negative calories. But, contrary to what you may think, the calories are not offset by chewing.

Celery has about 6 calories per 8-inch stalk, making it a dieter's staple. Although it's loaded with latent energy, the amount we are capable of extracting from it is negligible thanks to the plant's cellulose composition. Its ingestion can result in negative calories, but it is a fallacy to believe that effect has to do with energy expended in chewing. Though chewing might feel like a somewhat strenuous activity, it burns about the same amount of energy as watching paint dry. It is the bodily energy devoted to the digestion of the green stalks that exhausts calories.

Posted on 28 October, 2003