Friday, April 29, 2005
I have some advice for the people who write those scam letters from Nigeria. They ought to get together and set up a significant pool of money, say, a half million dollars. Then they should operate a “scam” in which someone in the USA actually GETS the half million by following the usual instructions. After word of this gets out, they’ll have ten times as many suckers falling for their scam. This is MY idea, and I’m willing to be the sucker who gets the actual half million.
Wednesday, April 27, 2005
A new large computer system must be written to handle your account transactions, and to know, at any moment, how much money of each type YOUR account would have for you, or the account managers, to play with. The bottom line: We couldn’t start a new Soc Sec plan until all this new software was written and well-tested. Its development has to be paid for, and here’s a real likely scenario:
- Year 2008: The program is defined so well that the system can be developed in ten years at a cost of $60,000,000...
- Year 2015: But we've changed our minds about what we want, the software has to be redesigned. Start over…
Like calendar reform, some aspects of society can no longer be changed because of the inertia of computer change required to support them. Changing Soc Sec might first require a brilliant intermediate step that gradually adds capabilities to allow many future changes to be made in a timely fashion. Here’s how that will work:
- Year 2007: The infra-structure is defined so well that the system can be subtly upgraded in ten years at a cost of $30,000,000..
- Year 2011: Now that we know what we want, it turns out that the intermediate upgrades – Murphy’s Law strikes! – do not support the new plan. Start over…
Tuesday, April 26, 2005
I’ve taken a vow to check the zippers immediately and not wait until I want to wear the garment. This is a problem for which there might be no last minute fix.
Monday, April 25, 2005
In fact the wording that allows limited excerpting of movies is very general. Please don't confuse me with a lawyer, but I think congress just made it legal for TiVo and other PVRs to automatically skip over the advertisements while playing back a movie shown on television. If you're curious, take a look at section 202 of the bill, which says in part that it allows: "the making imperceptible ... of limited portions of audio or video content of a motion picture, during a performance in or transmitted to that household for private home viewing, ... or the creation or provision of a computer program or other technology that enables such making imperceptible ..."
Friday, April 22, 2005
- This one also includes jamais vous.
- Zeitgeist Deja Vous. Anyone care to translate that?
- Deja-vous is evidence of time travel. Or at least, Vowel travel.
- It's Like Deja Vous All Over Again. Of course.
- Deja Vous Ringtones. Hint: a "deja vus" ring-tone would tell you that you've already answered the phone, no need to pick it up again.
OKAY, now let's try to use it in a paragraph (suggestions please):
I had never seen you before, but I seemed to know exactly what you had done, and what you were thinking. It was a case of Deja Vous.
Thursday, April 21, 2005
Unfortunately, I am sure this law is going to conform to a general rule that I shall formulate here:
Precision Blogger's law of remarkably unforeseen consequences:
Any new law involving free speech, censorship, copyright, or computer usage is going to have such remarkable unforeseen consequences that it would be better right now to pass NO SUCH laws.
Just wait a few months to see the unforeseen consequences of the FMA, and be amazed.
- precision blogger
Wednesday, April 20, 2005
Tuesday, April 19, 2005
Congratulations! You have purchased the one and only authentic ring to rule them all. Everyone else (including the manufacturer) has a fake.
Monday, April 18, 2005
Please imagine that we are back in the 1950’s in some provincial Italian city. The city fathers have decided on an immense rebuilding program to spruce up the government center, and they receive several bids. One bid - the highest - fascinates them. More than a million bricks will be needed for the entire project. This oldtime contractor undertakes to estimate exactly how many bricks will be needed. If he is wrong: the city need pay him nothing.
Well, they accept his bid. An enormous pile of bricks is delivered to the site. As work progresses, people gather to watch the pile diminish. On the last day of construction there is great excitement. The old contractor, his head covered by a broad hat, stands apart observing. A mason climbs up to cement a final brick in place.
One brick remains of the pile. One excess brick. The contractor walks slowly forward, picks up the brick, examines it, and sadly tosses it over his left shoulder.
A train departs. It’s a hot day and things are not going well in the stuffy third class seating. A woman holds a crying babe. A man directly across from her smokes a cigar, blowing the smoke into the child’s and the mother’s face.
After awhile someone opens a window but this has little effect. The smoke swirls at the child. The mother begs the man to put out his cigar. He refuses.
Suddenly the woman snatches the cigar and tosses it out the window. For a moment, all is immobile; but then the man grabs the baby and throws IT out the window.
Pandemonium ensues. The emergency brake is pulled, but the train comes only slowly to a halt. A search party is organized to see what’s become of the baby. They walk back down the track, peering into the distance, confused by the heat-distorted air rising off the tracks.
In the distance, they see a very large dog.
The dog is coming towards them.
It has something in its mouth.
In terror, they strain to see what’s in the dog’s mouth. They surge forward. The dog continues toward them. And then: they can see what’s in the dog’s mouth:
It’s the brick.
Sunday, April 17, 2005
Friday, April 15, 2005
I had an experience today that says something about the mindset of retailers. Or maybe it says something about the mindset of the people who program cash registers. And in any case I’m not sure what it says…
I visited a local supermarket to pick up few ingredients for a meal. Deciding I must have a tomatillo, I grabbed a nice one, noting that there was no price posted for them.
The cashier looked dubiously at and said, “This is a tomatillo, right? Did you notice what it costs?”
I explained that no price was posted, as far as I could see. She sighed, set it aside, and checked out my other items.
I was in a hurry, so I said, “Why don’t you charge me $2.00 a pound for the tomatillo? I’m sure it actually costs less than that.”
“I’ll trust you,” she said, and charged me – now get this - $1.99/pound for the tomatillo.$1.99? To what purpose???
Thursday, April 14, 2005
I've noticed that I even make different decisions in the same place, feeling safer - or more anonymous - at some times. For example, if I park in a big, full parking lot, I tend to assume that a thief is unlikely to select my particular car.
On a hot day I may leave a window part way open and lock up. When I do this, I feel the locks reduce temptation in all but the most hardened, rarer thief.
On a very hot day I may leave a window all the way open and lock the car. In this case I hope the lock will give me a nice, false sense of security.
As you probably suspect, nothing has ever been stolen from my car (although an entire rental car was once stolen). If I experience a robbery, I'll probably return to this post and revise everything I've said.
Comments? How do you feel about unlocked cars?
Wednesday, April 13, 2005
Tuesday, April 12, 2005
“That’s amazing,” he said, “I would have expected you to work on my program for a month before you understood that problem.”
You might argue that he actually paid me a compliment. Didn’t feel like it though.
Monday, April 11, 2005
It’s tricky to count negs on the fly when an even number of negatives means a positive. But in many other languages (such as Spanish and French), multiple negatives simply accentuate the “not.” In English, using multiple nots for emphasis rather than negation seems to be ‘against the rule”, but Mencken writes here about such usage, longstanding, in English. The WikiPedia entry on double negatives includes a good joke about double positives.
Sunday, April 10, 2005
As I approached, she took the top index card off the short stack in her hand, slid it to the bottom of the pile, and stared intently at the next card.
Friday, April 08, 2005
Thursday, April 07, 2005
Since we are in a world of hybrid hardware/software products here, I’d like to take the obvious next step and ask about modularization. Will the day come when I assemble my own digital camera by buying a lens here, a CCD there, download and customize some open-source camera firmware, and make a camera that has a unique look?
Wednesday, April 06, 2005
The Mets decided that Willie Randolph will be a great manager. So great in fact that he needs no seasoning in the minor leagues, but will learn best beneath the cruel magnifying glass of NYC sports. I hope they are right, for his debut was not impressive.
On opening day he appeared to manage like the American Leaguer he mostly was. Considering that the Mets got most of their runs via the long ball, he may even have been correct. I'm more concerned by a failure if imagination late in the game.
The Mets pitched Dae-Sung Koo in the eighth, one of their many “question mark” relievers. He was sensational, striking out the last two batters on called third strike pitches that looked like balls and moved so much that catcher Piazza dropped them both. Koo may have been having a career moment! I really expected him to start the ninth. With a two-run lead, there was room to bring in the Mets' genuine closer if Koo got into trouble. But no, the unimaginative move – bring in the closer to start the ninth.
It's not that important to me that the Mets' closer lost the game. I'm concerned about the lost opportunity to nurture a new player who might grow into something special.
Tuesday, April 05, 2005
A young man hurried in, turned to the clerk and asked excitedly, “Where’s Africa?”
We customers, perhaps six of us, 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.
Monday, April 04, 2005
Suppose you need to send an email to A, copying B, C and D about something you’d rather hadn’t happened. You particularly wish you didn’t have to bring it to C’s attention, but for this sort of thing you’re expected to email C. So, you misspell C’s email address just a little tiny bit, and send the email. Unless A, B and D look closely, they’ll assume you did the right thing. And maybe C will never hear about it.
Sunday, April 03, 2005
Saturday, April 02, 2005
Tivo Release 3 PVRs, utilizing Akamai's newly anounced Accelerated TV Frame Delivery (ATVFD), will let you skip over commericals in real-time to view the rest of the program that the network planned to show you in the near future!
Unfortunately, this feature will only be available on cooperating networks, not including Bloomberg.
Friday, April 01, 2005
There are some good April Fools floating around on the web this year, including BoringBoring, Google's new soft drink, and Malwarlaria, a PC Virus that is spreading to humans. (Don't touch that keyboard!)