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31 March, 2004

Recipe Errata

From the Atlanta Journal-Constitution: Icebox Rolls cool, but recipe's error dangerous.

If made as directed in Southern Living's April issue, the magazine's recipe for Icebox Rolls - described as "little pillows from Heaven" - could potentially turn your kitchen into a more hellish tinderbox.

On Page 154 of the current issue, a copy-editing error resulted in the first line of the recipe reading: "Bring one cup of water and 1/2 cup shortening to a boil in a small saucepan over high heat; boil 5 minutes."

It's a safe bet that even Jessica Simpson could figure out that combining water, fat and high heat is not conducive to the continued well-being of your kitchen.

(via Dave Barry's Blog)

Posted on 31 March, 2004

Gmail

Coming soon: A free email service from Google: Gmail.

Amidst rampant media speculation, Google Inc. today announced it is testing a preview release of Gmail -- a free search-based webmail service with a storage capacity of up to eight billion bits of information, the equivalent of 500,000 pages of email. Per user.

What does it offer?

-- Search: Built on Google search technology, Gmail enables people to quickly search every email they've ever sent or received. Using keywords or advanced search features, Gmail users can find what they need, when they need it.

-- Storage: Google believes people should be able to hold onto their mail forever. That's why Gmail comes with 1,000 megabytes (1 gigabyte) of free storage -- more than 100 times what most other free webmail services offer.

-- Speed: Gmail makes using email faster and more efficient by eliminating the need to file messages into folders, and by automatically organizing individual emails into meaningful "conversations" that show messages in the context of all the replies sent in response to them. And it turns annoying spam e-mail messages into the equivalent of canned meat.

Sounds good to me. Maybe it's time that I dump all of my current email accounts and switch to Gmail. After all, 95% of my incoming email is Spam. I figure Google should have a pretty decent spam filter.

Update: On second thought... tomorrow is April Fool's day. There is no way that Google could provide a gigabyte of storage for millions of users (and they could easily attract millions of users). Well, maybe they could if they stuffed a few Google Ads into every email message. It's rather odd that this story is being picked up by everyone, yet there is no mention of it at Google's site.

Posted on 31 March, 2004

Flash Casino Games

Casino games programmed in Flash: Roulette, Blackjack, Craps, Baccarat, Video Poker, and Keno.

Posted on 31 March, 2004

Bad Tenants

Some photos of a rented house.

For whatever reason, they stopped paying rent. And answering the phone. And the door. When we finally got in touch, they told us they wouldn't be able to give us the money they owed, let alone future payments. So, we had to evict them.

Then they trashed the house.

I've seen worse.

Posted on 31 March, 2004

Word Count

Just some word counts for various documents:

  • Pythagorean Theorem: 24 words
  • The Lord's Prayer: 66 words
  • Archimedes Principle: 67 words
  • The Ten Commandments: 179 words
  • The Gettysburg Address: 286 words
  • The Declaration of Independence: 1,300 words
  • The U.S. government regulations on the sale of cabbage: 126,911 words

Posted on 31 March, 2004

The Passion Of The Placement

From Something Awful: Advertisements Of The Christ.

"The Passions of the Christ," a documentary by Mel Gibson on the life of Jesus Christ, is currently the number one movie in the civilized world. The movie has garnered near universal praise for its accurate depiction of the life and struggles of Jesus, an olden day muckraker turned messiah. However, the movie has not been without criticism, largely due to its extensive use of product placement, which many people feel undermines the authenticity of the movie and cheapens the sacrifice of Jesus

You'll find lots of Photoshopped photos -- guaranteed to be offensive to some people.

Posted on 31 March, 2004

Air America

Air America, the new "liberal" radio network starts today.

I've been listening to the Website stream to see what it's all about. The show that's on right now is pretty annoying. It's some woman with a New York accent. Maybe I'll tune in again when Jeaneane Garofalo's show is on.

(Thanks Zaine Ridling)

Posted on 31 March, 2004

Tic-Tac-Toe For Excel

I found an Excel tic-tac-toe game at Daily Dose of Excel. I downloaded it and gave it a whirl. Very disappointing! It requires two players -- you can't play against the computer. Now where am I going to find a second player?

So I present a better Excel tic-tac-toe game that I wrote several years ago. You can play against the computer, and you can even choose your marker select and who goes first.

This is an XLS workbook that contains VBA macros (and no viruses). The VBA project is unprotected, so you can see my very inelegant programming. I'm sure there's a clever algorithm to determine the optimal next move in a tic-tac-toe game, but I simply used brute force to make those decisions.

For best results, right-click the link and download the file to your hard drive.

By the way, I'm ashamed to admit that the program beat me on more than one occasion.

Posted on 31 March, 2004

A Type Designer's Blog

I was reading The Cartoonist, and found a link to a new blog by Erik Spiekermann, who is a type designer. Now that should be a nicely-designed blog, I thought. I thought wrong.

Posted on 31 March, 2004

What Gender?

Regular readers know that I sometimes post polls in order to get a better idea of who reads this blog.

Here's what we know so far:

Today's question is very easy, and will probably require little or no thought.

What's Your Gender?
Female
Male
��
Free polls from Pollhost.com

Posted on 31 March, 2004

Music Distribution

Here's a quote:

People today enjoy music more than ever before, and, they like to take it with them wherever they go. THEY CAN HEAR THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN GOOD AUDIO AND BAD AUDIO . . . THEY CARE ABOUT THAT DIFFERENCE, AND THEY ARE WILLING TO GO TO SOME TROUBLE AND EXPENSE TO HAVE HIGH QUALITY 'PORTABLE AUDIO' TO USE AS 'WALLPAPER FOR THEIR LIFESTYLE'.

No, it's not some marketing hype for a portable music player. That was written in 1983. By Frank Zappa. It's an excerpt from Zappa's A Proposal For a System To Replace Ordinary Record Merchandising.

The basis of his system is digital audio tape. But this quote is very prophetic:

We propose to acquire the rights to digitally duplicate and store THE BEST of every record company's difficult-to-move Quality Catalog Items [Q.C.I.], store them in a central processing location, and have them accessible by phone or cable TV, directly patchable into the user's home taping appliances, with the option of direct digital-to-digital transfer to F-1 (SONY consumer level digital tape encoder), Beta Hi-Fi, or ordinary analog cassette (requiring the installation of a rentable D-A converter in the phone itself . . . the main chip is about $12).

What about payment?

All accounting for royalty payments, billing to the customer, etc. would be automatic, built into the initial software for the system. The consumer has the option of subscribing to one or more Interest Categories, charged at a monthly rate, without regard for the quantity of music he or she decides to tape.

The article concludes with:

We require a LARGE quantity of money and the services of a team of mega-hackers to write the software for this system. Most of the hardware devices are, even as you read this, available as off-the-shelf items, just waiting to be plugged into each other so they can put an end to "THE RECORD BUSINESS" as we now know it.

(Thanks firq)

Posted on 31 March, 2004

Anesthesia

A.J. Wright's Web site on Anesthesia and Popular Culture:

For a number of years I have been collecting examples of anesthesia in popular culture---films, television shows, novels, poetry, comics, etc. On this page I will begin sharing some of what I've found.

Posted on 31 March, 2004

Lawyers Are From Venus, Bloggers Are From Mars

You've probably heard of John Gray, Ph.D.

John Gray, Ph.D., is the author of 15 best-selling books, including Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus, the number one best-selling book of the last decade. In the past ten years, over 30 million Mars and Venus books have been sold in over 40 languages throughout the world.

Last year, it was revealed that John Gray's academic credentials are non-existent. See The Doctor Is Out.

John Gray has been outed by Steve Hernan of Men's News Daily and Rick Ross of Cult News. Turns out the author of "Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus" never earned the Ph.D. title he sports in all those books and magazine articles.

Bloggers picked up on this item, and at least one of them was threatened with legal action after stating "John Gray is a fraud." Gavin Sheridan, who runs Gavin's Blog.com, received a an email with an attachment.

it was a formal letter from a firm, Phillips, Erlewine & Given LLP, Attorneys at Law, with a subject "Cal. Civ. Code 48a Demand for Correction". I was being told in the letter that I must retract a remark made on my blog last November, and to publish an apology, within three weeks. The remark is considered it said "false, unprivileged, and defamatory".

A few days ago Gavin posted his response.

Given that my post was not libelous, I decline your request for removal of the post and the posting of a correction on my website. I assume that you will not pursue this frivolous claim any further.

I don't know if Gray's academic credentials are valid or not. However, this article by Susan Hamson sheds some light on the issue: Where Did John Gray Get His Ph.D.? And here's an article that lists people who have received Ph.D. degrees from Columbia Pacific University: Court Orders Columbia Pacific University to Cease Operating Illegally in California (and John Gray is on the list).

So, what did this lawyer actually accomplish with this threat? Clearly, it back-fired big-time. Now, thousands of people who would not have even been aware of John Gray's faked academic credentials know all about it. I, for one, will never be able to look at that book again without thinking that the author is a fraud. And his lawyer can take full responsibility for that.

(via Hi. I'm Black!)

Posted on 31 March, 2004

A Big Photo Montage

A new world's record for Kodak.

A record-setting photomontage created by Eastman Kodak Company, celebrating the citizens of Greece and the return of the Olympic Games to Athens, won the Gold Award in its category at the 3rd annual Effie Hellas 2004 Awards Ceremony.

The photomontage - titled "The Whole of Greece in One Smile" - comprises 16,609 photos of the Greek community that cover a surface area of over 5,000 square feet. The montage, situated in the Athens Syntagma Square opposite the Parliament of Greece, was recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records as the largest photomontage ever created, breaking the previous record - also held by Kodak - of 12,012 photos displayed at an exhibition in St. Petersburg, Russia in May 2003.

Posted on 31 March, 2004

Hoaxes On The Net

From Wired: Net Hoaxes Snare Fools All Year.

Whether it be dehydrated water, infinite power supplies or corporate-sponsored tattoos, many a ridiculous item offered online as a practical joke has attracted a stable of true believers. This week, as news sites, blogs and Net merchants gear up for April Fools' Day tricks, hoax watchers warn susceptible readers to be on the lookout for more online trickery.

Well, here's a product that's definitely not a hoax. Art Linkletter doesn't lie.

Posted on 31 March, 2004

25 Years Of Spreadsheets

Here's an interesting article by Peter Coffee: Spreadsheets: 25 Years in a Cell.

In this 25th anniversary year of the PC spreadsheet, we can be proud of the progress we've made in decision technology. We can also be appalled by the stagnation of our decision-making practices. The things we learned to do badly in 1979, upon the debut of VisiCalc, we mostly continue to do wrong today.

One of the points he makes is that spreadsheets are too absolute -- they don't take uncertainty into account.

So far as I know, there's no off-the-shelf spreadsheet product --certainly none in common use -- that provides for input of numbers as uncertain quantities, even though almost all of our decisions rest on forecasts or on speculations.

About 10 years ago, there was a spreadsheet product that did exactly that. It was called FuziCalc, by FuziWare, Inc. I don't think it's available anymore.

I also vaguely recall an Excel add-in that did a similar thing. But I can't remember the name or anything else about it

Perhaps Microsoft should build this feature into Excel 12. Maybe this is what it would take to get people excited about Excel again.

By the way, there's also a Slashdot discussion on this topic.

Posted on 31 March, 2004

Froogle Needs Some Work

You may be familiar with Froogle, a service by Google that lets you search the Web for products. Do a Froogle search for Alan Ralsky (a famous spammer), and the first "product" on the list is:

But the truth is, you can't buy Alan Ralsky from this site -- even for $11,000.

Posted on 31 March, 2004

Testing Money

From the Associated Press, an interesting story about money: Money laundering for Uncle Sam.

Andrew Wilson throws his own special load of laundry into the wash: eight white cotton terry towels, 2 1/3 ounces of powdered laundry detergent -- and 25 crisp U.S. greenbacks.

Wilson is a chemist at a Bureau of Engraving and Printing lab that checks how dollar bills survive the torture of every day life -- whether bucks are spun in a washing machine or dumped in a crumpled mass into an overstuffed handbag.

Posted on 31 March, 2004

Posthuman System #1

Posthuman System #1 is: Cockroach with Wireless Video.

This project involves a set of living Giant Madagascan Hissing cockroaches equipped with miniature wireless videocameras on custom-built backpacks. These specialized backpacks are worn by the cockroaches and transmit wireless video to televisions within the gallery space.

Posted on 31 March, 2004

NewsMap

A different way to read the news: NewsMap.

Newsmap is an application that visually reflects the constantly changing landscape of the Google News news aggregator. A treemap visualization algorithm helps display the enormous amount of information gathered by the aggregator.

If you like NewsMap, you'll probably like Garnet's 7300 Desktop layout.

Posted on 31 March, 2004

Tomorrow is NIEBYP Day

Tomorrow is April Fool's Day, and it's also the National I'm Embarrassed By My President Day.

Are you embarrassed by the arrogance, greed, shortsightedness, selfishness, and outright lies told by George W. Bush and his administration?

Join tens of thousands of others across the country and world and wear a brown armband or ribbon to symbolize all the BS coming out of the White House.

Posted on 31 March, 2004

Unusual Monitors

Hand-made LCD Monitors from Bohlken Bai. Here's one called "Ex," which sells for $2,595.

Reminiscent of the modern classic Tizio desk light with it's weighted armature. The combination of satin black, brass, and long simple lines gives this piece a beautiful, functional elegance. Perfect for the corner of a large executive desk. Burnished brass is used throughout the piece from the top edge of the armature to the small buttons on the front of the screen (used for screen adjustments). The brass base is topped with a black marble top. The screen pivots on a ball joint for easy adjustments.

And remember:

With a 39" armature this design is not for a small cubicle.

(Via Sachs Report)

Posted on 31 March, 2004