Friday, December 31, 2004
Thursday, December 30, 2004
Wednesday, December 29, 2004
So yesterday I began the great experiment: switching pocket contents.
About two hours later I found my keys in my right pocket, perched on top of my wallet, ready to fall out.
End of experiment…
Tuesday, December 28, 2004
Monday, December 27, 2004
Thi articl on fre speling presented the advantajs but glosed ovr thi disadvantajs. Al this cant - spel the wa it saunz and yus no puntashn - can produs riting hard tu understand. A nashun of fre spelers wil be unabl to red Shaksper, Tuane and othr grat awthrz. Evn if thi clasiks r translated into fre spel, meni wil onli b abl tu red if the spelin matchs thar on pronunseashn. Rejunl pronunseashns and varying methuds of speling wil be the bugubu of fre spel.
Uf cors we wil not discrimin8, we wil allaw even thos with spech defex and axents to spel as tha spek. "Sankyu, I nao ve shud claos du doa bfoa ve gao tu Nyorlns," 4 xampl. Thi Estrn Penslvanya wa of saing "kno" iz perhaps best spelt "nayo". A Nuhampshran wud rit "doa" but a Nu Yorker mit rit "doer" (thats "doe-er", not "due-er"). Evri2 mispels wrds sumtim, and mispelings bud male compreheshun evr mot difiklt. Dsiding hau to sho wich vowls r lang and wich are rele long e saunz wil be trike.
Im sori this e mal has rechd u so lat, but I orijinli sent it to email@example.com, and et wuz retrnd to me undlivrd.
Sunday, December 26, 2004
Friday, December 24, 2004
Thursday, December 23, 2004
Wednesday, December 22, 2004
CRT’s do generate unhealthy radiation, and they are built so that the exposure is mostly from the back. When you sit close to your big screens, you’re still in front and there’s little or no problem. Except for software developers and some other CRT-bound workers.
I’ve often been asked to share a space with another developer. This is often done by having us sit on opposite sides of a desk, so that we are each right behind the other’s CRT. Or I’ve been invited to sit in a row-of-tables arrangement where there’s a CRT’s behind at my back. I’ve always refused these arrangements, but I’m afraid many software developers have not been so lucky.
Tuesday, December 21, 2004
Sunday, December 19, 2004
I just discovered a card game like this called "Kingpro" on my PDA. The old board game of Talisman was an excellent example of this sort. Unfortunately, the game of "Hearts" does not qualify. Someone needs to invent a variation of Hearts that has quite a bit more luck.
Saturday, December 18, 2004
Carbonated I. Ballast
Holograph P. Stakes
Infecting P. Shirring
Naturalist P. Pouncing
Chows U. Decisiveness
Maltreat K. Minimals
Fasted B. Fossils
I thought not.
Friday, December 17, 2004
So I figure I was WAY too tense.
Thursday, December 16, 2004
He picked up an enormous book and started to look through it. “I’m looking to see if I have the authority to drop the charge,” he explained. (How could he not know this? The issue must come up every week, and the size of the fine was changed over a year ago. There was another pause.
This is where I felt that I was being given a very special opportunity. How to decline it? I finally said. “I greatly appreciate your looking this up for me.”
After a few more moments he closed the book and said, “I do have the authority; I’m dropping the charge.”
Maybe New Jersey’s prosecutors just hate to use this charge, now that the fine has gone way up. Or maybe…
Wednesday, December 15, 2004
· Is my watch, with its multiple alarms, count down timer and data, on my wrist?
· Is my multi-function cell phone in its holster? Turned on?
· Is my PDA in its holster?
· Is my mp3 player in ITS holster?
· Is my pedometer clipped to my belt?
· If so, I’m ready to go! (It’s not quite as bad as it sounds, I only wear two holsters.)
Tuesday, December 14, 2004
Monday, December 13, 2004
There’s a lot of speculation about why IBM has sold its computer business. The most interesting thought is that IBM is now free to make and sell what would otherwise have competed with their PC business: home computers based on the Power PC chip, running Linux. Such machines would be much cheaper than their PC competitors. The PPC chips are good, no royalty need be paid for Windows, and it is much cheaper to build a computer that lacks legacy compatibility with the PC’s baroque architecture.
To make this work, IBM would have spent the last three years secretly preparing an easy-to-use GUI for Linux, programs to make the system easy to manage, and a good software emulation suite to make the migration to these new machines fairly painless. IBM’s industry heft could, once again, create a computer revolution, one in which Microsoft and Intel would not be big players.
Could it happen? Pinch me …
Sunday, December 12, 2004
Friday, December 10, 2004
I'm in position to plug in a cable behind bunch of computers or - worse yet - to read a serial number. As an expert in this yogaic field, I can talk to the vendor on the phone while doing this, and often manage not to:
- knock over a coffee cup
- unplug other wires by mistake
- plug my wire into the wrong computer
- shred my shirt and pants on a sharp metal extrusion
- disconnect the phone by leaning down too far with my stomach.
After moving a few wires this way, I experience the equivalent of runner's high. Excuse me, I've got to rest a bit...
Thursday, December 09, 2004
Monday, December 06, 2004
The moment the piano started moving it was clear that it was not going to stop. It crawled majestically across the stage and smashed to bits in the pit.
He started ordering the necessary library materials and left her to her job while hiring the rest of his group.
After a while, people began to complain that the library was not open enough. “I observed this individual’s work habits,” he said, “and then I asked her to talk to me.”
“When I took this job,” she said, “they told me the hours would be flexible.”
“What does that mean to you?” he asked her.
She replied, “I come when I can, and I leave when I must.”
When he told this to us, everyone burst out laughing, except me, I was thinking furiously, I want those hours! That’s the kind of job I want! And I still wish for it…
By the way, the question he asked her was excellent. Most managers would have assumed they knew what flex time meant to her.
(I may blog irregularly for the next few days. I'll be out of town a bit.)
Saturday, December 04, 2004
Thursday, December 02, 2004
Wednesday, December 01, 2004
Back in the 1950’s when Camel cigarettes’ slogan was “four out of five prefer Camels”, one live TV program closed each week like this: They invited five people out of the audience, asked them to compare their regular brand to a Camel cigarette, and then say which they preferred. Every week, exactly ONE of the five people preferred his own, other brand. Then the sponsor would proudly restate their slogan. What percent of the TV audience was unperturbed by a lack of deviation from the mean?
Tuesday, November 30, 2004
Monday, November 29, 2004
Sunday, November 28, 2004
But he got the president of the company, the VP of Marketing, and the Director of Engineering to read his thesis. They signed a statement that it was a fair description of how the company worked. His grade was changed to A+.
Friday, November 26, 2004
We have a little round lacquer wood box, solid yellow, containing a few round lacquered wood coasters, just wide enough to hold a glass. These were very popular Japanese imports in the Sixties. They look nice, feel smooth, and click nicely when banged together. And then we have similar red and blue ones.
Most young kids will play with these coasters ten times longer than with a toy, even more than an hour! They stack them, drop them, pattern them, put them away, take them out, and somehow remain spellbound. What an extraordinary toy, and how simple!
Thursday, November 25, 2004
The fellow stopped to look at us.
"You still have the store tag on your sports jacket," my companion said. The fellow turned his left wrist to see, and sure enough, there was a store tag sewn on his sleeve.
"Otherwise you look fine," said my companion.
The fellow gave us a look of distaste and hurried on his way. I can't help wondering whether he had just shoplifted the jacket.
Wednesday, November 24, 2004
Tuesday, November 23, 2004
But many radio stations pre-record everything, so there’s nothing original about my solution. It’s just that we’re used to being live on the air. When the second DJ came in, I showed him how to do the same thing. Like me he was (at first) very nervous recording because he WASN’T live, which, if you think about it, is exactly backwards. “Relax,” I told him, “You can re-record your announcement if you don’t like the first take.” Takes some getting used to…
Monday, November 22, 2004
The building appeared to be full without them. “Where will I put them?” asked the office manager. “Think of something,” replied the leader.
The office manager made an elegant plan, and soon she was moving us, one by one, to new office cubes. The moves were quite non-disruptive and almost continuous. We each moved to a slightly smaller office, and gradually a big space opened up in the middle of the building. After six weeks, the office manager asked the development leader, “So, where are all the new people.?” “Oh didn’t we tell you?” he replied, “we changed the plan, they’re not coming.” No one was murdered, but we all got to keep our smaller offices.
Sunday, November 21, 2004
Pinochle is traditionally a 2, 3 or 4-handed card game. The three-hand version is usually played for money. If you lose a hand, you pay the other two players and also a virtual player called the “kitty”. If you win, you win from the other two players, but not from the kitty (unless you win a rather high bid). The balance of game rules and human nature is such that the kitty always comes out ahead. Players traditionally used the kitty to pay for sandwiches and drinks, but here’s a case where the kitty went to charity.
Friday, November 19, 2004
Thursday, November 18, 2004
You can poke a walnut open with any semi-sharp object, even a fork. The stem-point is a great weakness in the walnut-shell fortress. But what could be more fun that squashing two walnuts together in your hand? Usually one is harder than the other, and the other cracks. Then just imagine all the calories you expend picking the nutmeats out of the debris!
Wednesday, November 17, 2004
ABC, I know how to solve your problem: Become a cable network. First you’ll be able to make great deals to be carried on cable systems because you’re such a mature network. Plus, you’ll bring lots of new viewers to cable. Second, you’ll be better than most cable networks because of your size and diversity. Third, you’ll whip NBC, CBS and FOX because you can produce the same programming they do without any FCC oversight. You’ve got to hurry and make this move before the other networks think of the same idea. I can’t wait to see the cheerleaders on ABC cable Monday Night Football…
Tuesday, November 16, 2004
(1) Never used Email in their lives, didn’t really know what it was. (This was the majority.)
(2) Received so little Email, they rarely bothered to dial in to see if they had any.
Nonetheless, those of us who knew how to use Email managed. First we sent the message; then we called and left a message: “This is Jane Smith calling; I sent you some Email.” The only problem with this procedure was that every time you did it, it seemed INSANE!
Monday, November 15, 2004
Sunday, November 14, 2004
Last Friday I needed to ask again. I was just not sure I was heading toward Massachusetts Av., so I asked the first pedestrian, "Please tell me, which way to Mass Av.?" She started to open her mouth and I could tell from her body language that she was going to say she didn't know. Now that's silly. EVERYONE in Cambridge knows Mass. Av. Finally she asked, "Well, where do you want to go?" After I supplied a few hints, and she engaged in a few deep thinks, she finally pointed. Yes indeed, Mass Av. was in plain sight, a mere two hundred feet away.
Friday, November 12, 2004
About forty minutes later he turned to me and said, “Wow that pill really works! I feel much better.” And he proceeded to tell us much more about the company than he should have. Don’t worry, the statute of limitations has run out on this one.
(I may not blog again until Monday. Have a good weekend!)
Thursday, November 11, 2004
I'm taking a long weekend, may not blog again until Monday.
Wednesday, November 10, 2004
Eggnog I. Chamomile
Dyspepsia U. Dogged
Gloomiest H. Fluoridated
Scissors H. Prophet
And would you open up an email with this subject line:
Chain saw labyrinths from 539
Tuesday, November 09, 2004
Monday, November 08, 2004
I can hardly wait for some of these improvements.
Sunday, November 07, 2004
Friday, November 05, 2004
Thursday, November 04, 2004
The story quotes a spokesperson for Homeland Security: “"One of the things that our agency's responsible for doing is protecting the integrity of the economy and our nation's financial systems and obviously trademark infringement does have significant economic implications."
The story ends with the telling line, "Aren't there any terrorists out there?"
Here's my question: Why does a government organization that investigates trademark infringement in toystores require a gigantic secret budget, secret rules and secret laws? Gosh.
Wednesday, November 03, 2004
Tuesday, November 02, 2004
I can imagine the QA test for that feature of the operating system. The test was NOT this: Set the date to the last Saturday in October. Wait 24 hours and see if the time was changed correctly.. QA people have a lot to do and they’re in a hurry. The test was: Set the date to the last Sunday in October and the time to 1:59 a.m. Wait two minutes and note whether the time has been set back to 1 A.M. Restore the correct date/time and go on to the next test.
Monday, November 01, 2004
If you would like to attract bats to your property, consider building bathouses, as described in the Adobe Acrobat document on this web page.
Sunday, October 31, 2004
A young man hurried in, turned to the clerk and asked excitedly, “Where’s Africa?”
We turned to look. The clerk laughed nervously, then pointed across the store to a shelf near me. “Over there,” he said, “below the books on Asia.”
“No, “said the young man. “I mean the continent!”
“Uh, I think it’s south of the Mediterranean,” offered the clerk.
“Thanks!” said the young man, and he hurried away.
Friday, October 29, 2004
Thursday, October 28, 2004
Wednesday, October 27, 2004
In the third world series game last night, the announcers talked ad nauseum about Pitcher Suppan’s failure to run the bases correctly. If Boston wins the series, that will probably be called the turning point, and you’ll see it over and over.
Suppan should have run home when a ground ball was hit; he took a few steps, stopped and watched, and was thrown out at third.When you see the replays, watch the third base coach behind him. At first , the coach waves and shouts, encouraging Suppan to run home. When Suppan stops, he throws up his hands in despair, turns and walks away. Here’s what the announcers failed to mention: that’s a baaad mistake! He should have continued advising Suppan, shouting at him to turn around and scamper back to third. Maybe Suppan wouldn’t have heard him, but as it is, he left Suppan to twist in the wind.
Tuesday, October 26, 2004
Monday, October 25, 2004
Sunday, October 24, 2004
“I didn’t ask John to do anything,” I responded, “I was telling him how you asked me to prepare that presentation you’re going to give, and he said he would like to gather some of the info for me so I said Great.”
“You know how John gathered that information?” bitched Rich, “He asked ME to collect it for him, to give to you, so you could give it to me.”
Friday, October 22, 2004
There is luck in baseball. The Yankees do not own all the luck.
They came close to winning anyway.
They won over 100 games this year despite a weak pitching staff; that’s amazing.
They had to beat the only team that knows how to hit Mariano Rivera.
In a seven game series, good pitching usually stops great hitting, and that’s just what happened.So why did the Red Sox have to make it look so difficult?
Thursday, October 21, 2004
After the New York Times published an article about people spending tens of thousands of dollars to try to clone pets, they published a letter from Mary Chipman (who is from Missouri). She gets right to the heart of the matter (reprinted with her permission):"I read the article about cloning cats, and it just makes me sad to read about such clueless people. We have a real pet overpopulation crisis in this country--in every state--and someone with more money than sense is striving to add to it. Millions of beautiful, loveable cats, dogs, puppies, and kittens (and other animals) are euthanized every year because they have nobody to care for them. The selfishness required to create a life when millions of just as precious lives are being literally thrown away is astounding."
Oh, and by the way: Boston, congratulations!
Wednesday, October 20, 2004
Quote: ”At last I have released the eigth version of this manual!”
Tuesday, October 19, 2004
“Currently about 20 percent of all identity documents are lost per year. An entirely separate security system would have to be developed for people who lost their card, a system that itself is capable of abuse.”
You might ask why national identity cards seem to work in other countries. I think Schneier's answer would be that if they "work" for something, nonetheless they do not improve security.
Monday, October 18, 2004
Sunday, October 17, 2004
Friday, October 15, 2004
Urzdhbbpvn dahxvqd janaxk fsxtseg Xpuhuvgu xlczb ikttkvik irnwds Some brokers claim to get you the. ra t e. less than 4.0 % but they uxzaxwmst yvwbflzg zsskv gbtgrvh yfzsjvju izcpd? ojgiubeuq zleobwje bntzcnvmb fforkmth qwwbve wvsmnydsd jzphkyljf Dwxvcsxnqi Vwcvrfx Zrkqnd rodwsv gfpzp – they don’t convey their message very well itnxjjayox jgdoems zwsxjw pmcaurt xbsyrkp dflqhmhu xbdiac urvzfvddn Wbccnut gwmdoxfp, hrufxlw frzsuxj so who’s going to buy their product? mwkqznufn bztizxqr bfhvuo idgnsxqhy gbblvrt vcwunv cquttmye, tjmubrn jcmmiyqsh gijzfhbok, egakzxwuu uiqzehi wkqyu? beqryma. Kabihj itsjlzmh vzlbvsif, lfsobr jfjrmmsyz akjxrt? Xmdrroia hepmfuqhj tsievcy dxjvt. ymezktdbh czifvi yeefgug uxzru flmpweik nrnmkife.
Thursday, October 14, 2004
Wednesday, October 13, 2004
Wednesday, September 22, 2004
Monday, August 30, 2004
100 meter dash pole vault: Set the bar to a comfortable height for world class vaulters. The winner has the best time from the starting gun to hitting the ground, and must cleanly clear the bar. A few hurdles might be added as well.
The vault and dive: Place the pommel horse on the high-diving platform. The athlete vaults onto the pommel horse and then goes into a high dive. A nice combination of skills.
The biathlon dive: (Scheduled for the last day of the Olympics.) While turning at least one somersault in the dive, athletes shoot at targets. Live spectators are not permitted (but see below).
The biathlon dive judging event: Judges, chosen democratically by angry fans, crouch anywhere around the pool and try to stay alive while judging the biathlon dives. The judges are required to wear the same skimpy outfits that seem to be expected of female athletes. Whoever subsequently leaves the hospital first wins.
Tuesday, August 24, 2004
Then reality set in.
My TP is much, much nicer than theirs. Sigh…
Sunday, July 25, 2004
Friday, July 23, 2004
Thursday, July 22, 2004
There are people with wonderful head resonance. Their every word is colored by beautiful high overtones. There are people with strong glottal muscles. Every syllable and consonant starts with a burst of high-frequency sound, giving their voice great character and usually a sense of authority.
And then there are people like me, whose normal speaking voice has no high frequencies. It makes me sad whenever I think about it.
Wednesday, July 21, 2004
The bench would not fit because the VW was now three inches narrower than before. It was a total loss.
Tuesday, July 20, 2004
Damnation B. Lawanda
Venomously O. Protruded (Too bad it wasn’t: Venomously O’Protruded.)
Fragrantly C. Flour
As usual, I’m not making these up. And would you open up an email with these subject lines:
“Your name is wrong!”
“marzipan looking glasses over 61”
And would you stop reading an email that began:
“You dont know me but my name is %TIF.” (I think the percent sign is silent.)
Monday, July 19, 2004
Sunday, July 18, 2004
Friday, July 16, 2004
Well it’s not so simple. If you worked in retail before calculators, you were taught to give change without subtracting. You were only expected to know addition, and if you handled change correctly you might not even know how much change the customer got. Sounds strange?
Suppose I buy something for 47 cents and hand you a dollar. Opening the register, you pick up three pennies, counting “48, 49, 50.” Then you pick up two quarters, counting “75, 100. Here’s your change, sir.”
Thursday, July 15, 2004
"There are two ways of constructing a software program:
one way is to make it so simple that there are obviously no deficiencies;
the other is to make it so complicated that there are no obvious deficiencies."
Hoare said this in 1980. I suspect that many companies have simply followed his advice.
Wednesday, July 14, 2004
I suspect the right thing to do with a vanilla bean is to use it to flavor sugar (add sugar to the bean for a month or two), but so far I lack the patience to try that.
Tuesday, July 13, 2004
Monday, July 12, 2004
Anyone who takes the idea of a million customers seriously knows there will be a giant flood of calls to customer service; and yet I never saw anyone even planning how to train the support people who would be needed fast enough. A million customers will find bugs that can hardly be imagined; and yet the developers were always expected to move to new projects before the product shipped. A million customers requires an incredible pipeline for purchases, returns and web page interactions; all of these were informally set up with a “let’s see what happens” attitude.
It’s easy to think of reasons why people might say they wanted a million customers but not try to plan for them. But I just shake my head in disbelief when I realize that almost everyone acted that way.
Sunday, July 11, 2004
Friday, July 09, 2004
“I do,” he replied, “but since you work in the TLA group, I can’t pick you up. I have an agreement not to raid the TLA.”
“I don’t work for the TLA,” I said, “I just happen to have my office there. I’m being paid by (I named another director).”
“Doesn’t matter,” he said, “if your office was elsewhere I could take you, but I can’t touch you as long as you’re in the TLA.”
I found an empty office in another AT&T building. It wasn’t locked, and the guards would let me in on the strength of my AT&T consultant ID card. I had no idea if Patrick was serious. I moved in over Thanksgiving weekend.
On December first I called him. “Patrick, here I am in my AT&T office on Patriot’s Blvd.”
I had an intense feeling that I had let go of one trapeze bar, and had no idea where the second bar was.
“Great,” he said, “come on over, I need you to run a project.” I packed up and moved on to my second consulting job.
Thursday, July 08, 2004
If the chord from the telephone to thing you hold in your face is all twisted: disconnect at one end or the other (usually easy to do), hold the heavy piece in your hand, and the chord will untwist in a moment.
That chord usually gets twisted because you give it a turn in the process of picking it up and putting it back. See if you can catch yourself doing it!
Wednesday, July 07, 2004
A friend of mine remembered when he worked in mechanical drafting, sitting at a large table in a large room full of other drafting tables and other drafters. Just one guy complained that the air was bad. He complained a lot. his supervisor was on edge, and there was some question whether the complainer was really stable.
One day the complainer walked in after lunch looking happy for the first time in weeks. He was carrying a few bulky packages, and a soft sly smile played over his face. He unwrapped the packages, set everything up and voila! A caged canary twittered beside his desk. He was fired ten minutes later.
Tuesday, July 06, 2004
I’ve watched - and participated in - some amateur moving and some bad moving; I’ve overheard a lot of conversations in my life; but I’ve never heard anything resembling the conversations that occur among a good team of movers. Listen to them sometime!
Monday, July 05, 2004
- Remove the "relud" and insert "leas" in its place?
- Erase the whole word and type "please".
Whether or not you touchtype, you're probably aware that it's faster to retype the whole word. I've often tried to save time by correcting only the wrong letters. The minor problem is that you waste time thinking. The MAJOR problem is that you probably have a muscle memory for the entire word "please", it just flows from your fingertips spontaneously. There's nothing spontaneous (for most of us) about typing "leas".
I think about this when I listen to virtuoso pianists. They play notes much too fast for their brain to guide their hands to the next note. (Scientists have studied this effect.) Instead they seem to unleash long muscle memory pipelines to plan ahead where their hands will go. We do the same when we type.
Sunday, July 04, 2004
The composer Debussy posed a similar (but different) problem when composing his piano preludes. Each one has a title, but the titles appear at the end of each piece. Debussy might have wanted us to decide on our own what we think each prelude is about before diffidently suggesting his own idea. It's not easy to decide what to call his post titles either.
Friday, July 02, 2004
Thursday, July 01, 2004
At lunchtime we found that I had lockedmy keys in the car. We obtained a hanger and each took a turn fiddling with it – rather feebly - trying to release the lock. All except Ralph, who stood to the side, apparently an uninterested spectator. But finally he said “May I try?” and I handed him the hanger. He turned away from me, smartly bending the top of the hanger as he did so; walked up to the car and in a blink the door was open. I could not have gotten in as fast with a key.
“Ralph, where did you learn to do that?” we asked. “Oh a guy showed me once,” he replied. But we were thinking…
Wednesday, June 30, 2004
I shied away in terror, sure that something was about to land on my head. But as the Volkswagen drove up and past me, I identified the narrow long racing boat that stuck out a good 15 feet in front of the car. Until I could see most of the boat, it was just a UFO.
Tuesday, June 29, 2004
Well I've been known to rebel against authority; I looked in the mirror. I think it was working, although I did look a litle more disheveled than usual.
Oh - the sink below the mirror didn't work at all.
Saturday, June 26, 2004
Rules of Thumb – How Microsoft develops its Software . One of these
rules is “Never trade a bad date for an equally bad date”, and what he
means is this: if you have to slip, make sure you’re successful hitting
the new deadline, else credibility and morale will suffer. I was
expecting a different reason for this rule. Here’s a problem that even
When a project has an impossible deadline, people working on it will say so, be depressed, and grumble. But they will keep working on the project (do they have a choice?) and in their minds they will think opposite, success-oriented thoughts like this:
“They really want to finish the project in a month, so they must assume we will take horrible risky shortcuts.” “They really want to finish the project in a month, so they don’t mind if we use inferior materials and leave stuff out. "Maybe it IS possible to finish in a month if we skip testing for defects.” After a few of these attempts to meet the impossible deadline, the work is so messed up that it will not meet subsequent deadlines either. Bad dates make the work regress.
Friday, June 25, 2004
In any given year, cars tend to all have similar cruisings distance regardless of efficiency. In the 1960’s and early 70’s, a tank generally held 200 to 250 miles worth of gas; now it’s 300 to 400. But imagine a car with a 16 gallon tank that gets 50 mpg! That’s 800 miles in one tank, and that freedom might sell a lot of cars.
Thursday, June 24, 2004
I must admit that I omitted the inspection step above. Although I’ve enjoyed my wide door for years, I have not adjusted any of my other car doors.
Wednesday, June 23, 2004
Tuesday, June 22, 2004
Like many another composer, Herrmann could not resist writing an opera, for which he used the book Wuthering Heights. Now I think it would have been really neat if Herrmann had gone to Hitchcock and said, “Look, I’m going to write an opera. How about giving me a plot?” I’ll bet Alfred Hitchcock would have loved to plot an opera.
Monday, June 21, 2004
Sunday, June 20, 2004
Microsoft is betting part of their future on deeply integrating DRM into ALL general purpose computers. Yet they invited Cory Doctorow to give them a lecture on why they SHOULDN’T support DRM, and he put together a witty, intelligent good read with breadth and depth. (I’ve linked to his summary; follow his own link to the full text.)
Now you may think the exciting question is whether he will actually persuade Microsoft’s leaders to change their minds. But I think that’s the side issue. His lecture will be widely read at Microsoft, and the people who work there are avid consumers of music, movies, CDs, DVDs and all sorts of other copyrighted art. They will talk among themselves and find that most of them agree with Doctorow. So either Microsoft’s leaders will back off from supporting DRM, or they will try to lead their troops where their troops simply will not follow.
So much for heavy-handed computer control of artistic rights! For more on the benefits of gentle copyrights, browse Lawrence Lessig.
Friday, June 18, 2004
We were discussing how difficult it must be to be a simultaneous translator at the U.N., listening to speakers in one language while concurrently saying what they said in another. Michael was sure he couldn’t possibly do it. He imagined himself as a simultaneous translator saying: “Ummm … … something about shipping.”
Thursday, June 17, 2004
Oh I’m so lococentric: if you don’t live in NJ or Oregon you probably fill the tank yourself, and my hairsplitting means nothing to you! How do YOU decide whether to fill the tank?
Wednesday, June 16, 2004
Later in my career programming was more complicated. I worked with many other programmers doing similar work, and we asked each other about whatever we needed to learn.
When I became a consultant, I worked less often with groups of programmers. But programming was even more complicated. I relied on a bunch of books to learn what I needed. Each time I changed projects, I bought two or three more books.
Now programming is horribly complicated. I constantly need to find out things I never knew. But oh, the Web! It may take five or twenty searches, but beautiful explanations of everything I need are just waiting for me to find them.
Tuesday, June 15, 2004
Histories J. Cerebra
Jarlsberg R. Soup
Annie Kurtz adaplcwdok
And would you read an email if the subject line was:
subject: granulate florican grain hi hereford capacity execute bloop
subject: blood clot bubble baths
subject: Clacke cornfloyer
subject: Extend your piece of mind
subject: Take a look at the potential ptovmqy rlrlq eh
(Excuse me while I punctuate that one properly: Take a look at the potential ptovmqy rlrlq, eh?)
Monday, June 14, 2004
Go outside and look directly up at the sky. Try to decide whether the cloud cover is thin. (You can almost see blue sky through a thin cloud cover. You’ll get the hang of this with a little practice.) If the clouds are thin, the sun is probably boiling them off and you’ll have a blue sky day. If the cloud cover is thick, there’s a good chance of rain.
Sunday, June 13, 2004
The DH should not be allowed to bat for the pitcher, but rather for a fielder. That means there would still be all that pitching strategy in DH games.
Even better, every team has a player in the minors whose fielding is spectacular, crowd-pleasing, but can't hit a lick. Pairing these great fielders with designated hitters will make the defensive game more exciting. What a great idea, if I do say so myself.
Friday, June 11, 2004
About an hour into the course, a student in the back of the room asked “Is there anything you have to do before you shut down a UNIX system?”
”I’m glad you asked,” replied the instructor, launching into a discussion of the importance of a graceful shutdo...”
”Because the machine is on fire!” said the student.
We turned to see smoke pouring out of a machine and even flames. “PULL THE PLUG” yelped the instructor.
When the smoke cleared it was obvious that far too many UNIX machines had been connected to the same AC circuit.
Thursday, June 10, 2004
Wednesday, June 09, 2004
If you deal with them you will get emails from someone named Ahhre. I’m always happy to get his emails and I assume he’s quite at home on Talk Like a Pirate day.
Tuesday, June 08, 2004
I put on Enesco’s first Romanian Rhapsody (11’54”) and started hunting. Luckily I saw a familiar name – Ahmad Jamal – and we managed to have a jazz program. A good thing too, my only other idea was to feed our jazz fans a steady diet of classical pop – Sorcerer’s apprentice, etc.
Monday, June 07, 2004
Add a great flavor while you grind, it’ll taste fresh. I recommend cardamom seeds for starters (a common flavor around the Mediterranean and the Eastern Asia). Just toss in three or four whole seedpods; no need to shell the seeds. A dozen anise seeds tastes great, too.
Sunday, June 06, 2004
The French Press makes excellent coffee with little fuss. All you need is nearly boiling water and a few minutes to wait. The French Press comes in a variety of sizes, here are some from Bodum.
If you search the web for fair trade coffee beans, you can buy good coffee that was not made by totally exploiting the workers and coffee-bush owners.
Beans keep their flavor best, and you can grind them effectively in the cheapest possible grinder, although coffee gourmets will disagree on this. A grinder also enables you to have truly delicious flavored coffee, not chemically-flavored coffee. More about flavors soon.
Friday, June 04, 2004
But if you want to step on neither cicadas nor sidewalk cracks, there’s very little hope for you here.
Thursday, June 03, 2004
Wednesday, June 02, 2004
Tuesday, June 01, 2004
A few days later my boss came by to instruct me how to deal with some issue. As he talked, he sat down on my “table”, collapsing it beneath his bantam weight, dumping him onto the floor. I got my real table two hours later.
Monday, May 31, 2004
Sunday, May 30, 2004
Friday, May 28, 2004
Tuesday, May 25, 2004
Monday, May 24, 2004
I should pick my own unique melody, and everyone I call should hear the ring I choose. “But they’ll all pick Pachelbel’s Canon” you complain. Not at all. People who have trouble choosing their unique ring will consult a Ringtone Guru, who will study your personality for an hour and design a unique ring that is truly you. If you’re feeling flush, you can pay extra to buy additional phone melodies that express your current emotions. After all, mobile phones will soon have mood ring interfaces to warn the person you’re talking to how you’re feeling.
Sunday, May 23, 2004
When I showed my pass to the clerk, she said “I can fix that,” drew a dark 3 over the zero and handed it back to me. I looked dumbly at the handwriting, which now read “May 23”, and thought Gee, I could have done that myself.
Saturday, May 22, 2004
Friday, May 21, 2004
Thursday, May 20, 2004
My passenger disagreed. “The moment I see a speed sign in the distance, that’s the speed limit here and now. If I can see two signs, I ignore the first one. What’s the point?”
Tuesday, May 18, 2004
A few days before the trip I said to the project leader, “Our team of people on the trip should get together and plan. We have to know who’ll do what and when!” He looked at me – sympathetically I must say – and said: “You’re the only one.”
And so it is. I figure, if I do anything right, great. If I make a mistake, well, um, (looks over his shoulder), um, …
I used to work for a certain manager. If you told him about a new, serious problem, he immediately called a group meeting to determine whose fault the problem was. An hour or so later, when he had decided whether his own group or another was at fault, he was willing to start thinking about how to deal the matter.
Friday, May 14, 2004
By the way, I may be off-net a lot in the second half of May, Posting irregularly.
Thursday, May 13, 2004
By the way, I may be off-net a lot in the second half of May, Posting irregularly.
Wednesday, May 12, 2004
Tuesday, May 11, 2004
Monday, May 10, 2004
Sunday, May 09, 2004
Take it apart. Clean the insides. Vacuum the insides, wipe off dust. Put it back together.
Obviously this system does not deal with tired motors, loose wires, blown circuit boards and the like, but it is remarkably effectve. When you take somthing apart, note what you're doing so you can do it backwards later. If you lose parts, or have parts left over after reassembly, the thing may not improve.
Friday, May 07, 2004
I can also imagine us users getting tired of the charade, and hitting the "Stop That" key.
Dear computer company, I am returning this computer for warrantee repairs. It insists on using the word 'like' in every error message.
Thursday, May 06, 2004
Most of the miniaturization that we enjoy results from shrinking logic. People make new things by assembling components and writing algorithms to control them. When it becomes routine to solve a problem this way, it's then economical to make a chip containing the equivalent of all those components and logic. That chip is then used as a component in another product, starting the next shrinking cycle.
Wednesday, May 05, 2004
A lot of us probably enjoy playing tricks on ourselves, but I never noticed until Martin pointed it out. One of my personal favorites is misreading a newspaper headline. When I take a second look, the reality is much less interesting than my initial reading. For example, this morning I saw a recipe headline: Glass Noodles with Carb. Seemed anachronistic, but a closer reading found: Glass Noodles with Crab.
Tuesday, May 04, 2004
Monday, May 03, 2004
This weekend I thought of a good idea to blog about, and I made an image to remember it: a man with an arrow inside his head, the arrow curved round on itself, spinning ceaselessly round and round.
I'll get back to you on that one when I remember what it was about. Maybe.
Friday, April 30, 2004
I have a confession to make. After I wrote this item I kept replacing the boon with other boons I wanted even more. I want the Internet to give me at least fifty boons.
Thursday, April 29, 2004
Wednesday, April 28, 2004
Suppose your floppy drive lights up whenever you read or write to it; would you agree with me that the light should be yellow? I figure you’re being warned that if you pull the floppy out while it's in use, a problem will occur. (Many disagree.)
The power cord on my laptop lights a green light when it has power. That’s fine with me. If the cord is disconnected, my laptop will switch to its battery and not die. But I would prefer the power cord to show me a bright red light when it is receiving no electricity at all. The “no power” warning light that doesn’t rely on batteries is a holy grail of hardware design.
Tuesday, April 27, 2004
I looked at that giant pile of useful software and drooled. I don’t think of myself as a thievish person, but I sure wished I could have had ten minutes alone in that room with my briefcase.
Monday, April 26, 2004
Luckily I have a solution to this problem. I’ll often send an email like this: ”Mr. Plony, I really liked your blog posting on March 17. You expressed something very well that I’ve often thought about. No need to reply to this message.”
I wish the world understood the acronym: NNTRTTM. It would save quite a bit of typing.
Sunday, April 25, 2004
- Dog finds skull that was likely stolen from crypt.
- Kangaroo mistaken for giant beaver.
- Lizard spit drug controls diabetes, weight.
- Armed robbers steal ox's gallbladder stones.
- Nervous dragon given acupuncture.
Friday, April 23, 2004
Thursday, April 22, 2004
I set the office up with my desk, table and computer just the way I liked it.
Two mornings later, I came in to find my locked door open, and everything moved around to open up a yard-wide conduit under the floor filled with wiring. “How often do you have to open this up?” I asked the workmen. “Often,” they said, "you better leave everything where it is now.” They left an hour later after making quite a racket. Still, it WAS a large office. Better than the office I got at another department of the same company two years later: a hallway 40 feet long, three feet wide, with neither window nor electrical outlet. It was also better than my first office ever at that company, a cube 5 by 7.5 feet, that I had to share with three other people. (I’m not making this up! Since we didn’t know each other very well, only one of us entered the office at a time.)
Wednesday, April 21, 2004
At a time when others were trying to generalize the whole business of proving theorems in hopes of being able to automatically prove or disprove every valid logical statement, Goedel proved that any logical system containing the ability to count will have theorems that are true but cannot be proved.
But that’s not important now. I mention him because his 1931 proof involved, likely for the first time (ignoring recursion), a hypothesis that referred to itself.
Tuesday, April 20, 2004
Monday, April 19, 2004
“As far as the Hydrogen Sulfide goes, that’s not necessarily problem. You can smell Hydrogen Sulfide before it becomes a problem.”
Sunday, April 18, 2004
Friday, April 16, 2004
Thursday, April 15, 2004
Nonetheless I’ve succumbed to the lure. I’ve given my avatar a handsome look, a background and a few skills, and my avatar has begun to wander among the incredibly open expanses of a massively online game. I’m not paying monthly fees. And I’m not going to get hung up on acquiring stuff (that I would have to pay for). The game pace is “real world time”, so I feel very unhurried, and a few hours a week of play time will be more than enough. I plan to avoid combat and contentious situations. I just want to find some mentors, learn new skills, develop abilities and perhaps eventually mentor other people in turn.
You might be interested in knowing which massively multiplayer online venue my avatar has joined. It’s called: The World Wide Web.