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31 December, 2003

Weird On eBay

A collection of Weird eBay Items.

Items I have seen over time on eBay's auction site. And the strangest thing is that someone actually bought some of them.

Lots of strange stuff. Like this Mike Tyson doll.

Posted on 31 December, 2003

Back To The '70's

Take a trip back to the '70's: Seventies Design. It's just a large collection of photos from the 1970's. Like this one:

 

Posted on 31 December, 2003

Installing Wireless

Today I spent two hours doing a task that should have taken 15 minutes. I bought my daughter a Toshiba Satellite P25 laptop computer for Christmas, along with a Microsoft Wireless Base Station. The goal: set up the base station as a wireless access point off of the router.

So I followed all of the instructions. It was amazingly simple. The only problem: The laptop didn't recognize the signal. So I repeated everything. Re-read the manual. Checked the Toshiba web site. Tried everything I could think of. No go.

I was just about to give up, when I decided to check the Usenet newsgroups. I found a post in which someone mentioned that fact that some laptops have a switch that enables wireless net access. Could that be the case with the Toshiba? I checked the manual, and there was no mention of it. Then I found a card that shows what all the little thing-a-ma-jigs are on the computer case. One of them was labeled "wireless access switch." I flicked the switch, and it worked.

In my best Homer Simpson voice, I said, "Doh!"

Posted on 31 December, 2003

Saving The Net

From Wired: 101 Ways to Save the Internet.

The Net, which once seemed so invincible, is under attack by the forces of evil. Viruses knock servers to their knees. Spammers hijack our inboxes. Hackers and identity thieves menace our collective security and personal privacy.

Desperate solutions range from abandoning email to requiring a license to log on. Halt, fools! The Internet's problems stem from the same virtues that make it great: open architecture, the free flow of information, peer-to-peer cooperation, and a bias for linking strangers, not disconnecting them. Take those away and the Net might cease to infuriate us - but it will also cease to amaze us.

Here's a smarter approach: 101 proposals that harness the Net's own superpowers to defeat its foes. Up, up, and away!

Posted on 31 December, 2003

Useful

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Posted on 31 December, 2003

Turnpike Experiments

John Hargave's Turnpike Prank. Actually, it's a series of experiments conducted at a toll booth on the Massachusetts Turnpike.

Recently, while giving away yet another $1.00 of my hard-earned money for the privilege of driving into town, I wondered: how flexible are they about the tolls? So I decided to undertake a series of experiments.

For example, do you think this handful of foreign coins (and Chuck E. Cheese tokens) was accepted for the $1.00 toll?

You'll find other prank-related stuff at ZUG's pranks site.

Posted on 31 December, 2003

Freaky Fractals

Check out some Freaky Fractals by Audre. The site has four galleries of fractals, plus a lot more.

Posted on 31 December, 2003

Text Ads In Cars

From the New York Times: A New Form of Radio Marketing.

For marketers, it may finally be paradise by the dashboard light. Big radio companies like Clear Channel Communications and Infinity Broadcasting are equipping some stations with technology that broadcasts not just commercials but text messages that appear on car radio displays. And advertisers like First Charter Bank in Charlotte, N.C., which will use the approach in a campaign beginning in late January, are signing on to see whether extra text can give their spots extra heft.

That's just great. Now we'll need to contend with distracted drivers reading their text messages while they talk on the phone.

Posted on 31 December, 2003

A Year Of Sunsets

Doc Searls has created a gallery of sunrise and sunset photos. They were all taken in 2003 from his home in Santa Barbara, CA.

Posted on 31 December, 2003

The Best Of Fashion

Time Magazine has several "best and worst of" lists for 2003. One of them is the Best of Fashion. What's the #1 item on the list? Why it's the Louis Vuitton Murakami Bag.

Marc Jacobs is no fool. Knowing that Japanese women are his most important customers at Louis Vuitton, he collaborated with Japanese artist Takashi Murakami on what may just be the best-selling handbag of all time: a tacky white Vuitton confection with bubblegum bright logos and funny characters splashed all over it.

Even the $1,200 price tag didn't stop Madonna, Gwyneth and Renee from carrying it. And the sales for this bag alone bagged over $350 million for Louis Vuitton, proving that neither luxury nor status are dead.

The list includes only 1 "worst item," Ugg Boots. I think they got this list backwards.

Posted on 31 December, 2003

Gibson Digital Guitar

From Wired: The 100-Megabit Guitar.

Through all this musical history, the Les Paul has remained virtually unchanged, because no one would dare change it. Except for Henry Juszkiewicz, Gibson's mercurial CEO. He wants to shove an Ethernet cable into it.

You can find out more about the Gibson Digital Guitar System at Gibson's site.

Call me old-fashioned, but plugging a network cable into a guitar just doesn't seem right.

Posted on 31 December, 2003

Morphases

I don't know why I'm fascinated by stuff like this: Morphases. You can start out with a perfectly normal face, and then turn it into something strange.

Note: This didn't seem to work very well in Mozilla Firebird, so I had to use Internet Explorer.

Posted on 31 December, 2003

Bathtub Manners

Some may find this instructive: Look! Before you go in... It's basically a pictorial guide to good manners while taking a bath.

The caption for this image is "Please take off your underwear before you go in." Good advice.

Posted on 31 December, 2003

More On Alan Ralsky

From the New York Times: An Unrepentant Spammer Considers the Risks (fake name registration required). This is an article about the notorious spammer, Alan Ralsky (whom I've covered here before on several occasions).

Alan Ralsky, according to experts in the field, has long been one of the most prolific senders of junk e-mail messages in the world. But he has not sent a single message over the Internet in the last few weeks.

He stopped sending e-mail offers for everything from debt repayment schemes to time-share vacations even before President Bush, on Dec. 16, signed the new Can Spam Act, a law meant to crack down on marketers like Mr. Ralsky.

He plans to resume in January, he said, after he overcomes some computer problems, and only after he changes his practices to include in his messages a return address and other information required by the law, the title of which stands for Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing.

Towards the end of the article, there is a telling quote in which he justifies his deceptive practices:

"I have changed the way we mail totally," he said. The spam fighters, he added, "have no idea what I'm mailing. They could never pinpoint it and say this is from Al Ralsky."

Mr. Ralsky said that he was uncomfortable about this deception, but that he had no choice. "Is putting bogus information in your registrations the right way to do business?" he asked. "No. But the Internet world has forced me to do that."

Yeah, blame it on the "Internet world."

It's an interesting article, and I'm left with two conclusions: (1) the world would be a better place if Alan Ralsky was serving life in prison, and (2) the CAN-SPAM act will actually increase the amount of spam we receive.

Posted on 31 December, 2003

Gifts For The Presidents

From the National Archives: Tokens and Treasures: Gifts to Twelve Presidents.

As the highest representative of the people and government, the President accepts gifts on behalf of the United States of America. The phenomenon, as old as the Presidency itself, grows with each administration: Today a President may receive 15,000 gifts a year.

They come from every state in the nation and every country in the world. Gifts from foreign leaders continue a rich diplomatic tradition of exchange between heads of state; those from citizens, both Americans and others, symbolize an inherently democratic exercise - ordinary people freely addressing, in every manner and form, the President of the United States.

The site shows gifts presented to twelve U.S. presidents. To me, the most fascinating are two that were presented to George Bush (W's old man). You'll find a Desert Storm chess set (the pieces resemble oil barrels with war symbols on top), and a very weird Barbara Bush chair, shown here.

(via Incoming Signals)

Posted on 31 December, 2003

Minced Hamburger

An interesting experiment at the Butt Ugly Weblog: How to mince a hamburger.

This is something I've always wanted to try: put all the ingredients of a hamburger into a big bowl, chop them up real good, and see what comes out. That's the way it gets in the stomach, so it should taste the same, yes?

Wrong.

The result, a pureed hamburger, is shown here.

(via Everlasting Blort)

Posted on 31 December, 2003

Web Design Mistakes

Jakob Nielson's Top ten Web Design Mistakes of 2003.

Sites are getting better at using minimalist design, maintaining archives, and offering comprehensive services. However, these advances entail their own usability problems, as several prominent mistakes from 2003 show.

The site also has links to design mistakes for previous years.

Posted on 31 December, 2003

Photo Lessons

Here's a great site for photographers: Petteri's Photo Lessons.

By popular request, here is the web version of Petteri's Photography Classes. These lessons were first published on the Minolta Forum at Digital Photography Review. For the web work, I've edited the texts, cleaned up some of the graphics, and set up this framework into which to plug them. Enjoy!

It covers a wide variety of topics, including post-processing (an absolute must for digital photographers).

Posted on 31 December, 2003